(KATV) A group of volunteers going above and beyond to help the homeless in Russellville get jobs and get back on their feet.
The Russ Bus is an extension of The One Inc. that is based in Little Rock. Unlike food pantries and overnight shelters that they work with, they go out and look for people who are homeless, gain their friendship and give them a hand up.
On this Labor Day, volunteers with the Russ Bus are passing out water to people in need. Fred Teague says, "Homelessness is 7 days a week. We get calls every day." "All hours of the night," Ashley Francis adds.
The non-profit organization, the Russ Bus has helped more than 300 people since it kicked off, 9-months ago.
Looking at where she lived in August, Alyissa says, "I am relieved to be out of here but I am very thankful that we had it."
Alyissa Mason and her fiancée, James fell on hard times about 4-weeks. "When we became homeless we ended up in Danville. We were actually sleeping in a bathroom on the floor for a few days."
DHS got the young couple in touch with the Russ Bus, a non-profit that runs solely on donations and volunteers. When the founders, Fred Teague and Ashley Francis met Alyissa, she was 7 months pregnant. She says, "I look at Fred like a father figure and Ashley like a big sister."
Fred says, "It is hard for me to comprehend that in the year 2013 in my home town that people want to live in a tent because that is a step up."
There is a waiting list for families in need of a tent. At this location where Alyissa lived, they received donations to add electricity for a light, a fan and a fridge. Ashley explains, "We could not ask for a better community - they have supported us and supported us and supported us some more."
Fred says, "We are not going to end homelessness, we are not thinking that. We are just going to make a difference in the people's lives that want help."
Every volunteer has a full time job. Fred laughs, "The Russ Bus is a full time job too. We easily put in full time hours without a doubt."
They've helped about 300 people, which includes about 70 kids, people who work but live on the street and adults who graduated college. "God is a God of second chances in my opinion and that is what we offer people and sometimes it might be the 10th chance but we are still here," Fred explains.
Back at their headquarters that has been donated, they provide showers, a laundry facility, living necessities and toiletries. Once they help someone get a job, they put them in contact with the Help Network to find a home. In every situation they mentor the person, so they are not set up for failure. Ashley adds, "They are people. You have to give them dignity, you have to give them relationships and you have to welcome them back into your community so they can be thriving members of the community."
Alyissa is now 8 months pregnant and with the help of the Russ Bus, recently moved into an apartment and her fiancée James has a job. "He goes to work every day and he loves it. He wants to take care of us."
Fred adds, "Every one of them makes us better. That is it, every story makes us better."
Alyissa says without the Russ Bus, she thinks her daughter would be born homeless. "They are amazing people. I am glad we found them and they found us."
Alyissa's daughter is due in October.
The Russ Bus Contacts:
Victor: (479) 970-5065
Fred: (479) 967-4059
Ashley (479) 477-1277
PO Box 10231
Russellville, AR 72812