Pops and I Image

"The Pops Project"

The Pops Project is something that I took on July 12th 2019 that honestly wasn’t planned, it just sort of happened but since it did, lives have been changed, people outside of my normal reach have been reached and witnessed to and the impact this project has had on me and several others that have reached out to me VIA email or call is amazing.  You can read my original post at my business www.facebook.com/360merchant and I’ve pinned it to the top to be easier to find.  

From the bottom of my heart I honestly didn’t want the post to be about me at all I just wanted to shed a little light all the negative social media news and post I see daily on the internet. 

Timeline of Events:

July 10

7:45 am – I had a presentation and in BNI where my bio reads my burning desire is to help others and serve the lord. 

12:40 pm – Pops comes into FloBama to use the restroom and ask me if there is any job I had for him and luckily I knew of a neighbor that needed some labor so I sent him over there and he come back with a big smile and says he is paying me $10.00 an hour. Video of that response

1:00 pm – I’m a little slow I start to browse facebook like we all do most of the day..lol and I see a post when I open my phone that says Practice what your preach and all I could think about was my introduction to presentation earlier that morning and I asked myself am I really do all I can to practice what I preach?  Then seems like everything after that post was negative and down right put me in a bad mood. So i decided that somebody may need something positive added to there news feed so I posted a image of POPS and I that he wanted to take with me and posted some positive vibes and it put me in a better mood.  I thought well maybe that will cheer someone up. Boy was my life about to change…

6:00 pm – As I was getting off work I saw POPS across the street and I said get in the car with me and let’s get you a better place to rest.  We are blessed with some of the best riverfront views in the world so I got him some groceries, tent, grill, cooler and some clothes and rented a camp spot for couple days until I could figure something out. 

July 12th

1:00 pm – I stopped by FloBama at lunch and one of my employees said Pops come by and said he got an apartment . I was relieved so I continued to eat lunch then I seen Pops running in like a kid at their first trip to Six Flags he said Bart you have changed my life..I sort of giggled,  I mean how can a regular guy like me change somebodies life. Let’s be honest those are some strong words. He responded ” That post you posted on internet somebody saw it and they got me help.  I wasn’t starting to tear up….I think i had something in my eye…ok maybe just a little it was the most fulfilling feeling I’ve ever had in my life and I’ve had some great accomplishments most people only dream of but none of them topped what I felt to see his joy, smile and moral. 

July 13th – I gave him my business card so he could call me anything he got into a situation and really needed help.  So I got a call from him from using someones phone at the camp spot and he said “Some people from your church saw your post and brought be some things down here.  You think you could pick me up for church Sunday? I said sure! 

July 14th – He told me he would be up when the sun comes up and he was ready.  I told him that I would get him some clothes since we wear the same size.  I end up going to Wal-Mart and getting him some nice shirts and I gave him some Lucky Jeans I bought several years ago and they were to long and fit him perfect which is crazy that was the brand name and I had procrastinated for having them hemmed to fit.  As I pulled up to the camp site he was waiting on me at the fold out chair we had found for him and had a bible in one hand and a hat in the other.  I had called some of my friends that go to Faith Church to see if they were serving today? I got a response from both Josh Kelly and Blake Stutts to let them know I had a visitor coming to Faith Church today and wanted to make sure he felt welcome.  We pulled up where I told Blake we would park and he greeted him at our door welcomed him, got him some coffee and made him feel right at home.  Come to find out Pops knew Blake’s family as they are from the same school and area so it was a perfect situation. 

After church Pops and I went to Cracker Barrel to get some brunch and I told him he could pick anything on the menu..he was more excited about sliced tomatoes than he was about the steak and grits. I told him I didn’t eat bread so he could take the gravy and biscuits to go so he would have something to eat later on. 

Pops and I at Cracker Barrel

After we ate I took Pops back to camp site and told him that I would check on him on Monday when I got done with work. Around 1:30 Monday I received a call from him and he asked if I could meet with him that he was upset and I was the only one that really would actually listen to him and help him understand him.  I told him sure let me get done setting up this merchant and I will come downtown to see him and see what was going on.  I arrived to see him upset as his hopes for getting a apartment had fell through and he would be on a minimum of a 12 month waiting list.  Before I could even ask he told me I’ve prayed about it and I know Jesus will find a way and mean he has already done so much in the last week I can’t turn my back on him now.  I told him I would make some calls and see if I could find some resources and told him everything will work out just to keep the faith, his response was priceless “Oh Trust me I am”. He begin that thank me for listening as he was thinking he would be better off in a pine box which I responded I don’t think he’s done with you yet pops.  He responded hopefully your right! 

The call for Resources begins...

First of all I want to be honest with you about my experience with Social Security, Benefits, Resources and Real Estate.  I was in Real Estate for 9 years, owned my own company to which I was the broker but had no experience with Section 8 or Social Security Benefits, Food Stamps or VA Benefits ( as Pops) had served in the Army for 4 years in the 70’s.

1. I called Tim Rhodes properties to check on an apartment close to downtown because we were in process of getting him a job downtown and wanted to make it walking distance.  After talking with them she recommended we look at Lions Den Place on Tennessee Street since everything was included like Cable, Internet, Power and Water.  This means we would not have to pay deposits for any of these things and laundry was on site with vending machines, grills, microwave and refrigerator. Plus Pops qualified for $50.00 discount for being a Senior Citizen. Kim Vickery the office manager and all their staff was helpful and willing to help us.  She also referred me to Community Action Agency of Northwest Alabama, Inc. to possible help with some help with deposit fees.  I can’t thank Holly Morrison our counselor enough for her willingness to help us find some resources.

2. Now we needed to go to the social security office and apply for benefits and find some errors that had been made by the Government that ends up will be getting him extra $395.00 that had been owed to him but their was a error of from what we were told a mistype on a keyboard.  I agreed to pay the difference on the lease so that he would qualify for the apartment.  

3. All of this took about a week to finish and it was coming up on Friday and might I mention Handy Week in Florence so my schedule was more than double what it usually is but Kim and Tim Rhodes Property worked over on Friday so that we could have him a place before the weekend.  

4. Shopping Spree –  As soon as the lease was signed and Pops was asked what he wanted his alarm code to be and he quickly responded oh I already know and when he responded with the numbers I quickly responded are you kidding me? That’s what my code for over 4 different things that require a code.  He said well what’s next Boss Man haha I said well it’s time to go grocery shopping he said I can make it but I wasn’t going to let that happen.  See most people may be reading this and thinking he’s homeless and just wanting a hand out.  If your thinking that then you obviously have never met him because the ONLY things he has asked me for was 1. A Job or work 2. A minute of my time to speak because he had a bad day . He actually feels bad because he was raised not to ask for help from anyone.  In other words he was wanting to help himself just needed a quick start or someone to help him find work.  So 6 o’clock July 26, 2019 we delivered his mattress, sheets, pillow, food and household items to his apartment. We met some of his new neighbors and they quickly helped him feel at home and offered help if he needed guidance on maintenance issues or even how to use the code for the door. 

The response that made it all worth the experience....

Pops told me the last thing he told everyone after he found out he was getting a place is to never stop PRAYING and never GIVE UP.  He told me that leaving Riverbend when I picked up him up and said “And you know what? I can’t wait until I find the perfect person to pay it forward.  

Faith Church exist to REACH people and CONNECT them to God and others. We provide an atmosphere where you can come and be comfortable, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey.

I don’t think it’s a consequence we did just that and didn’t even realize it until we looked back and see wow we reached POPS and he is reaching people that connect to others. God is Always Good is one of Pops favorite sayings and always tells me you just got to have a little faith.

Interested in visiting Faith Church? We have live facebook service online at www.igotofaith.com or VIP Services can be reached at 256-767-4124. #igotofaith

I will be setting up a gofundmepage to help make his apartment a home.  I’ve set up an account for his rent to be deposited to so that he is never on the street again and only withdraw will be possible from landlord for lease payments and the rest is put into his checking account for expenses.  Also because he has permanent address we will be applying for food stamps Monday.  Also Aug 1 he will be on Medicaid and Medicare so his medicine and healthcare will be taken care of.   

BNI Props Image

One of the wildest things is 30 mins before I first met Pops I had done a presentation for BNI and these were some of my props for the presentation: 1. Life Saver 2. Lucky Charm 3. Payday Candy Bar 

It wasn’t until 5 days after I met him he noticed those props in my back seat on the way to get him some groceries he said what is that for? I explained to him that they were props for my presentation and I said try my best to be these 3 things for all my customers…he replied well I’m not your customer but you have already been all 3 to me. You got me a apartment, a job and you must be my lucky charm because I’ve been homeless for 6 months and I meet you 5 days ago and all these miracles I’ve been praying for have come to me and I can’t wait to pay it forward. 

I post this not to boast because it’s not about me but to maybe motivate you to help someone in need, serve others, bless someone that needs help if they are truly willing to help themselves. See some people don’t realize pops didn’t ask for anything from me but if I had any work he could do to earn some money. I didn’t even know he was homeless until I asked how to contact him if I find something…in which he responds I usually try to sleep under the park seats under the crosswalk and pointed across from my business.

How you can help?

If you have items you would like to donate like hot plate, coffee machine, hygiene items or other things please reach out to me.  I ask please don’t donate junk because he deserves better and this has been an eye opening experience as to how much money it takes just to get the things to live comfortable in a new place. 

Also if you need any part time jobs or something he can do for extra money he is very intelligent and trustworthy.  Please contact me 256-810-7736 

The gofundme is not to reimburse me for my money because I feel it’s money well spent and I’ve been blessed already 5 fold.

Special Thanks for this project:

Tim Rhodes Properties

FloBama Restaurant

Trowbridge’s in downtown Florence, Alabama

Florence Park and Rec

Community Action Partnership

Jared and Crystal Grigsby

Riverbend and Special Mentors

NAMI Shoals

Blake Stutts

Josh Kelly

Faith Church and Members from Faith

Jurnee Haggard and SportsClips on Mall Road

Countless others that I’m not aware of their names but have played a part in helping him while at Campsite from locals to out of town guest.

First Day I fed him
Camping Spot with a View
This is the Spot and Tent we set up for Pops while we tried to get permanent place.
Pizza and Some FloBama Tea
Iasked him what he had been craving for the longest...I delivered! He shared with another homeless! To have nothing and still be willing to share what you have is awesome.
Before Job Interview Prep
Thanks for Sports Clips for making him feel special!
During MVP Service
Hot and Cold Towel Treatment
He loved this said it made him feel so refreshed.
After MVP Service
He loved the new look and said wow I have so much more confidence now I believe I can do anything I want to now.
Root Beer for the Win...
Our $80.00 shopping spree to fill the refrigerator and get him some hygiene items.
He wanted some FloBama Gear
He came in one day from his camp site which had soaked all his clothes. So I said all I've got here is FloBama Shirts he said you don't have to do that I insisted he take it until I could wash his clothes for him. He was super excited!!!
On the way to Faith Church
I invited him to church and he said I'll be here waiting when the sun comes up and I arrived with some new clothes and off we go for life change!
Cracker Barrel After Church at Faith

Update as of Aug 2019 – Pops has an apartment, I’ve set him up a budget to make sure he is not homeless again and I will be delivering the rest of his furniture to make his new apartment a home on Aug 9, 2019!

I asked him how he liked his new home and his neighbors? He said they have all been great and very helpful.  What he shared with me next I wasn’t expecting but made this project for me all the more meaningful and worth the hours, effort and financial resources I’ve donated to helping him.  This is what he said..

He said boss man I believe you came into my life not just for me but to give me the ability to pay it forward.  I’ve got some good news I was sitting in the patio area and this 34 year old mother came up to me and said I heard you had somebody help you and I need somebody to give me some motivation that there is a better way than drugs and the streets. I’m at Rock Bottom and I want life change and eventually get my kid back in my life.  Without going into detail he invited her to church that Sunday and he said if you want help you got to ask Jesus that’s the only real help! He mentioned she was a little hesitate about going to a church she had never been to because she was raised that you should only go to the church you grew up in and his response was emotional for me to say the least..I was trying to keep it together as he quoted to me what he told her.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Mathew7:

He said scripture tells us to come to him wherever we are not a certain church.  So I’m happy to report she went to church with him and rededicated her life that first Sunday and is on the road to recovery.


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