Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Bus Driver Given Honours for Finding Homeless Passenger a Place to Stay

A bus driver in Wisconsin did the unthinkable one day when a homeless man walked onto her bus one cold winter night. Instead of dropping him off at the next stop, she offered him food and actually helped him find a place to stay.

Now, she’s getting some well-deserved acknowledgment for her heroic act.

It started like any other day for the Milwaukee County Transit bus driver, Natalie Barnes. Completing her daily route as she would any other day, she came across one of her frequent and routine riders.

Unfortunately for him, this day was very much not a routine trip.

Known simply as “Richard”, he revealed to Natalie that he now no longer had a home and was “officially homeless”. Apparently, the house he had been living in had been condemned and he had been living on the streets for over a week at that point.

At first, Barnes was at a loss to what she could do for the man. Offering the only things she could, she allowed the man to stay on the bus during her route and gave him some food. It was only a bit after that, that she was got to work finding some way to help Richard. Eventually, she was able to contact a friend and help Richard find a community shelter to stay.

Since then, the two have become very real friends, reaching out to each other often to check in with one another. Richard has since been working with the shelter to find more permanent housing.

Barnes said in a statement that, “everybody needs help” at some time or point in their lives. She also went on to say that, at that moment, she wanted to do whatever she could to help him get on his feet.

After the event began to gain traction and became more well-known, the transit system released a statement honoring Barnes. The County Executive, Chris Abele, noted that her kindness and compassion exemplified everything that MCTS and its excellence stood for.

Abele went on to state that Barnes “demonstrated what we all need to do to fight homelessness” which was to look out for each other’s well-being as well as come together.

“Across Milwaukee County, employees are focusing on empowering people and strengthening community, and we are investing resources throughout the County to reduce homelessness,” Abele said, specifically targeting the key issue of homelessness in the county itself.

The program, MCTS Excellence, was started by the transit line to acknowledge amazing acts of kindness performed by the drivers and employees. Every year, employees are recommended, with those being recognized getting awarded by management and their superiors.

Not only has Barnes’s action been, in and of itself, a great kindness that helped a man off the street and on the road to getting a home, but also brought the seriousness of homelessness back to the forefront of Milwaukee County’s responsibilities. Thanks to her kind act, there will hopefully be more “Natalie’s” in the world to help the unfortunate number of “Richard’s”.

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