John Vaughn is seeking $500 through PNC Bank’s Neighborhood Wishlist campaign to pay for his Ride with Pride project to provide MARTA and Xpress bus and train passes to area homeless residents to travel to job interviews and apply for jobs.
Vaughn heads the nonprofit homeless aid organization BeAboutIt.org. He said he realized after three years of helping those living on the streets in Atlanta that many wanted to work but had no way to pay for transportation to apply for jobs in the sprawling metro area.
“We came up with the idea that we can help these individuals,” he said. “We try to encourage them to get off the streets.”
Vaughn said he heard about Neighborhood Wishlist because it was his organization’s bank. The campaign funds local projects “proposed by residents who want to make a positive impact in their community,” according to information from the bank.
Each of the finalists can receive an amount based on a voting goal set by the finalist. Projects need one vote on a Neighborhood Wishlist web page for every dollar requested to receive funding, such as 480 votes for $480. Voting is done through Facebook and ends Monday at midnight.
PNC spokeswoman Asia Rambo said the bank limited applicants to qualified nonprofits and chose finalists based on such factors as creativity and its effect on local neighborhoods.
Vaughn said his group works with from five to 50 volunteers to provide clothes and personal hygiene items to those living outside or in shelters.
“They’re trying to get out of the circumstances they’re in,” he said.
The BeAboutIt.org leader said he got the idea for the organization after attending the Sweet Auburn Festival in downtown Atlanta. The irony of festival vendors selling $15 turkey legs near homeless people asking for money for food moved him to action, he recalled.
According to a 2009 survey, 126 people were homeless countywide in Douglas County.
Vaughn, who had worked primarily with Atlanta’s large homeless population, began periodic distribution of food to homeless Douglasville residents recently.
He said he heard from a reliable source many resided in a forested area behind a shopping center off Fairburn Road and his volunteers set up a buffet-style food spread nearby.
“The homeless came out of the woods, literally,” he said.
To vote: Log onto Facebook, “like” the PNC Bank page, and add the Neighborhood Wishlist app. Find a project and click on the green “vote” button. Visit pncneighborhoodwishlist.com for more information.