Springfield Tries to Offer Day Jobs to Panhandlers

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—  The city is hoping local homeless panhandlers will trade their cardboard signs in for time cards with it’s new “Wheels to Work” program.

David is inspecting what, to you, may look like a bus.

"I want to be a part of helping the homeless," he says.

To him looks like his chance to serve.

The Bible says to at least consider the homeless and I want to do that," he adds.

David is a volunteer bus driver for Wheels to Work.

A pilot program designed to bring employment opportunities to roadside homeless, panhandlers through the use of old City Utility busses and volunteers like David. 

"I'm looking forward to doing this," says David.

After running the buses for just three days Wes Buchholz with participating organization, Crossline's, is optimistic despite the fact, the buses--which seat about 18-- have yet to reach half full even once.

"Of the 21 people we approached on the first two days, six took us up on it," says Buchholz.

While our cameras weren't allowed on board, we were given the opportunity to ride one of these buses.

With the bus stopped, we watched, yards away, as volunteers approached these panhandlers.

Many declined a ride on what looked like a bus.

So nobody wants to come today, right,” one volunteer asked.

"Well it's just sort of sprung on us," one homeless woman responded.

Kelly Newberry saw it as a chance to move forward.

"It was a relief. People are starting to see where we're coming from," said Newberry.

She'd be the only one moved through the program all day.

"We're not expecting a certain percentage to take us up and participate and be successful,” says Buchholz.

But what looks like a slow day to everyone else-- may look like a victory for those steering the effort.

"If one person takes us up on a chance to better their life then that's a success," Buccholz says.

 

"It's just tremendous," says bus driver, David.


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