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The Source prepares third Dignity Bus for journey to Rhode Island

VERO BEACH — Leaders from The Source, a local Christian outreach ministry, are preparing to journey more than 1,300 miles to Rhode Island to deliver the agency’s third “Dignity Bus.” The bus will serve as an emergency shelter to the homeless population in Woonsocket, expanding The Source’s services from Vero Beach to a national level.

The first two Dignity Buses continue to run as emergency shelters for those in need in Vero Beach.

“This will prevent the homeless from sleeping on city benches and sidewalks. It took us eight years to get to this point,” the agency’s executive director Anthony Zorbaugh said. “Every human being has value. Every life has value regardless of your race, religion or sexual orientation.”

Community leaders gathered Tuesday morning at the Vero Beach City Hall and the Vero Beach Police Department to wish those traveling on the bus a safe journey. Representatives from The Source will head north on July 17 to Woonsocket, hold a two-day training session for the nonprofit Community Care Alliance that will operate the bus, and then fly back to Vero Beach July 21.

“There’s a lot of hidden faces that go behind the scenes in making everything work at The Source, from our members who participate in our programs to our board of directors, staff and volunteers. Everyone has had a hand in making this happen,” Zorbaugh said after the nonprofit organization received a proclamation during the Vero Beach City Council meeting.

“We couldn’t have done it without these amazing individuals. We’re proud to be able to do this in our community. Hopefully stay tuned and there will be more buses coming across the country.”

Some of these hidden figures include members Kyle McNeill, 60, of Vero Beach, Anthony Rommell, 40, of Melbourne, and Confesor Gonzalez, 65, of Vero Beach. All were previously homeless and now are employed at The Source. The city council awarded the men for converting the old Greyhound coach bus into an emergency shelter. The bus is equipped with 20 beds, each with an outlet and light switch.

“It’s humbling,” said McNeill, who said he used to sleep on the first Dignity Bus that was launched by The Source two years ago in Vero Beach.

The bus also has a fireplace and air conditioning. It took the three men four weeks to convert the bus into an emergency shelter.

The Source’s Development Director Jonathan Orozco, along with Zorbaugh, McNeill, Rommell and Gonzalez will make the journey on the Dignity Bus to Woonsocket. The Source sold the bus to the city of Woonsocket for $150,000 and Community Care Alliance is the non-profit provider, Zorbaugh said.

The Source is planning to expand the Dignity Bus to more cities including Jacksonville and Chicago.

The Source operates two Dignity Buses in Vero Beach, including one previously located in Palm Bay before it was relocated to Vero Beach. A crowd of about 50 people gathered inside the city council chambers as The Source leaders, board of directors and members were recognized.

Mayor John Cotugno read the proclamation, saying it was a proud moment for The Source and the entire community. Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey said the nonprofit’s work toward making sure the less fortunate have a dignified place to sleep is all about humanity.

“We think it’s great. We have a long-standing relationship with Zorbaugh,” Currey said. “There are many resources to get help. The Source is a big part of that.”

The crowd then walked across the street to the police department, where they enjoyed a tour of the bus, along with sandwiches and juice provided by the agency’s Dignity Food Truck. A group of about 20 people placed their hands on the side of the bus as Wayne Traverse, vice-president of the board at The Source and a pastor at Walton Road Baptist Church in Port St. Lucie, prayed for a safe journey.

“We pray for traveling mercies for this bus, but so much more for the lives that will be transformed through this, including each and every one of us here right now,” Traverse said.

Zorbaugh said the motto for The Source is that it’s “not a handout or a hand up, we’re a hand in.”

“When everybody has their hands in, the community works,” Zorbaugh said. “Each and every one of us…if we have our hands in the community, we can change the community.”

The Source recently partnered with the city of Vero Beach for its Community Works Program, where members work three days a week to restore Pocahontas Park in downtown. The agency also has other programs for its members including the Dining with Dignity culinary employability training, Dignity Catering and Dignity Food Trucks, the Dignity Village that will provide 19 affordable housing units to residents upon opening, mental health services, bible study sessions and adult literacy meetings, to name a few.

“Our main purpose is to uplift the homeless so they can uplift themselves…put them in the public eye,” Orozco said. “They are people who just fell down on their luck. Give them an opportunity.”

More information on The Source and its programs can be found on the organization’s website.


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