The Source Announces a 4th Dignity Bus Under Conversion
On the heels of sending off a newly converted 20-bed Dignity Bus to the Woonsocket-based nonprofit Community Care Alliance in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, The Source has announced a 4th bus in the making, going to Fortitude Community Outreach located in Bourbonnais, IL, Kankakee County, just outside of Chicago.
Just over two years ago, Dignity Bus, an original idea created to address the global homeless issue, was created in Vero Beach, FL by The Source, a non-profit Christian Ministry benefiting the needy and the homeless in Indian River County. This 20-bed shelter led to a second 16-bed shelter, both vehicles housing a total of 36 people seven nights a week for the homeless in Vero Beach. This “one-of-a- kind” mobile overnight emergency shelter was conceived and designed by Anthony Zorbaugh, the Executive Director of The Source, along with Maureen Archer, former Assistant Executive Director.
A group of Source members, who were previously homeless or incarcerated, happen to be skilled in carpentry and construction, and are employed by The Source as the ‘bus builders”. They consider the endeavor a project close to their hearts. The bus conversions include a custom-made interior and exterior, providing 20 secure, climate-controlled, individual sleeping pods with privacy curtains, a USB port, an individual light, a lockable door, a private bathroom facility, under-bus storage, pet pods for companion animals, an onboard overnight security person, and monitored CCTV surveillance.
The exterior wrapping of the bus is decided by the organization making the purchase.
Once the word began to spread, requests from around the country ensued inquiring about Dignity Bus information. When the first bus went national in June, Dawn Broers, Executive Director of Fortitude Community Outreach (FCO) and several other members of the organization paid a visit to Vero Beach to view the buses and The Source’s entire operation as a whole. It was during that visit that the organization arranged for the purchase of the 4th bus in the nation for their organization to operate. It is now under construction and expected to be operational in IL by mid-October.
FCO is a grassroots nonprofit in Kankakee County that provides services and street outreach for the homeless from a service center named Day Fort. They serve hundreds of homeless individuals each year with the help of a multitude of volunteers and with the support of their local community.
What will be named Night Fort, A Dignity Bus Project, will sleep 19 instead of the more common 20 sleeping “pods” or beds. According to Ms. Broers, “This bus will be the first in the nation to provide this type of shelter allowing wheelchair access. This was a rare find by The Source. We are ending up paying an increased cost to allow for a rear lift for wheelchair access and to fit a fully-accessible bed, but we feel it’s a small price to pay to benefit those with very special needs.”
Meanwhile The Source continues to get calls and emails from non-profits located in cities across the country who are also interested in the concept of Dignity Bus for the homeless in their own communities. Zorbaugh is profoundly overwhelmed. “We knew we had a unique idea that could serve the homeless population as a short term housing remedy,” Zorbaugh claims. “We are also learning that because of the support from our organization, the sense of community felt by our passengers and the valuable experience of a safe night’s sleep, our passengers are finding jobs as well as more permanent housing. This is becoming a means-to-an-end for many people. We have 36-beds (in two buses) locally and now will have 39-beds (in two buses) nationally. This is more than amazing, it’s simply a miracle.”
For more information on The Source, contact Executive Director Anthony Zorbaugh at 772-564-0202, Ext. 204 or visit www.iamthesource.org
For more information on Fortitude Outreach Center and their programs, contact Dawn Broers at (815) 546-3271.