Needy sleep safely and soundly in Source’s Dignity Bus

PHOTO BY BRENDA AHEARN

Supporters of the Source gathered last Wednesday evening on the grounds of Bobby Lindsey’s horse farm, for the official unveiling of their 45-foot Dignity Bus, an overnight shelter on wheels. The unique, custom-made interior features 20 individual sleeping pods in a secure, climate-controlled bus, with a restroom, storage space and even pet pods for companion animals, as well as an onboard security person and CCTV to keep everyone safe.

The team at the Source, which also serves as the county’s cold-weather emergency shelter, understands that sleep plays a vital role in a person’s mental and physical health, recognizing that sleep deficiencies can lead to an exacerbation or development of such mental health disorders as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, any of which can contribute to homelessness.

Prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, assisted by the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, and a blessing of the bus by Pastor Wayne Traverse, Tony Zorbaugh, executive director of the Christian-based outreach ministry, thanked supporters and officials and praised Jesus for making their mission possible.

“I’m blessed to be able to provide 20 beds in our community every single night to those that are in need,” Zorbaugh said.

Zorbaugh introduced Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers, commenting that local law enforcement plays an integral part in dealing with the homeless population, who he said are sometimes restless wanderers who make bad decisions.

Flowers said law enforcement deputies are tasked with getting to know the homeless populations inside their areas of responsibility, including those who sleep in the woods, noting that the homeless are often in poor mental or physical health, with some also dealing with substance abuse issues.

“Unfortunately, the need for homeless services is much greater than the resources that we have,” said Flowers. “We’ve put some things in motion that are really going to make an impact, including some deputies dedicated to the homeless issue. They’re going to be working directly with Anthony and the Source and our partners here in the community.”

Zorbaugh said their organization receives no tax dollars or government funding, making donations and grants essential to their operation.

“We’re so lucky to have such a wonderful resource in our town,” said Cindy O’Dare, before she and Richard Boga, her partner at Premier Estate Properties, presented a check for $5,000 toward the “Adopt a Pod” initiative, to help fund the $65,000 needed per year to operate the bus.

Zorbaugh said the late Fred Griffin was instrumental in making the Dignity Bus a reality.
“My husband felt the best when he was giving things away; he got a lot of joy in giving,” said Suzanne Chesser, Griffin’s wife, noting that he had also donated a trailer and a truck to the Source. “He had funded this bus before he passed away, but he never got to see the bus. He really had a heart for homeless people. He loved the Lord and he wanted to give as much away as he could.”

Following the ceremony, attendees had a chance to sample delicious culinary fare whipped up in the Dignity Food Truck, which first rolled out this past summer. The food truck was the latest addition to the Dining with Dignity program, where participants learn food prep skills, meal and nutritional planning and, upon completion, earn State of Florida ServSafe and SafeStaff certifications.

The Source assists the homeless, indigent and others in need as a ministry and drop-in center, providing them with food, clothing, hygiene items, showers, laundering facilities, mail and phone services, counseling, job readiness programs and community referrals.
For more information, visit iamthesource.org.

Photos by Brenda Ahearn

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