CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – A Professor of Sociology at Coastal Carolina University has been working with her students for nearly two years on a program that will supply free bike rentals for the homeless population in Horry County.
“I moved here two years ago, and I saw a lot of homeless people; I talked to a lot of homeless people, and I just started asking questions,” says Dr. Stephanie Southworth, lecturer of the CCU Sociology Department.
These questions are what led her to an alarming discovery.
“People would say, ‘I want to go to work. I want to get a job. When I go to apply for a job and I show up all sweaty because I’ve just walked two miles in the heat, and they won’t hire me,'” Southworth says.
Following a year of interviews with over 100 of the homeless population in Horry County, Southworth founded the Rolling Forward Project which will work to provide free bike rentals to those in need.
After another year fundraising with her Sociology students and CCU, the program has over 100 bicycles and just as many helmets, locks and bike racks to match. CCU has given grants that went toward purchasing the gear, and the University’s public safety department donated bicycles that were left behind on campus for the project.
This Friday, The Rolling Forward Project will donate everything they’ve accumulated to the men’s shelter at New Directions.
According to Kathy Jenkins, Executive Director of New Directions, this program could have a large impact on the homeless community.
“Probably 75 percent of our clients have no transportation, so to have that independence and be able to go when and how they need to go is just going to be life changing for them,” Jenkins says.
Southworth says Friday’s launch is just the beginning.
“We’re gonna follow up with interviews and ask people, ‘did this help you; did this get you where you needed to go?’ If this works, then we’re gonna try to make this a big program for the community,” she says.
The Rolling Project will launch July 20th at 4 p.m. at the New Directions Men’s Shelter, located at 1005 Osceola St. in Myrtle Beach. To find out more about The Rolling Forward Project, click here.