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We are all connected as a human race, whether or not we realize or choose to accept it. Despite this, a vast amount of groups are discriminated against, overlooked and marginalized. Among these on a constant rise are members of the homeless community.
In Atlanta alone, this accounts for almost 5,000 people, yet one non-profit group, Bridge of Light— true to their name — is adamant about bridging this gap. Gaye Magazine caught up exclusively with founder Ray Young to learn how she's uniting the community to make an impact for National Pride Month.
Established in 2015, Bridge of Light has made considerable contributions in an effort to improve the lives of homeless persons in Atlanta. Fundraisers, food drives, and volunteering are all part of its repertoire, yet it merely scratches the surface of what Young and her organization are bringing forth.
One of their most prominent services is The Dignity Bus. Young initially proposed the idea when weighing a homeless person's accessibility to particular resources.
"I'm thinking - I like to be clean I like to smell nice, where in the world do yawl shower," she questioned. "That may be once or twice a month or twice a week if possible, but everyone should have access to water."
A literal mobile unit, The Dignity Bus goes straight to communities in need, offering a full-service shower, barbering station, and the distribution of various hygiene supplies.
"We pull up downtown, there's a main street near a church where people sleep because the city can't bother them", Young told us.
"Our goal is to affirm dignity and remind people they are worthy no matter where there are, where they've been, or what condition they're in."
Bridge of Light has now reached a consistency amongst homeless persons they've assisted by promoting a more personalized approach to their outreach.
"When I say we pull up places, I mean we pull up places and get to know people," Young asserted. "When people keep seeing you show up, they start to open up and it's like... you build a rapport."
This June, Bridge of Light is partnering with Atlanta’s annual Pride Run as a beneficiary.
Thanks to the Atlanta Pride Run, The Dignity Bus received a makeover, unveiling a new design specifically promoting its partnership with the marathon. Local artist Demetri Burke, also a member of the LGBT community is re-painting the bus.
"I guess I want people to know that I'm a storyteller and I try to engage the community with my art," Burke shared exclusively with Gaye Magazine.
We caught up with Demetri hard at work, despite unfavorable weather conditions that halted the project for a couple of hours.
"I care about this really deeply so I'm happy to make really important stuff and I'm happy to collaborate with really important people."
Young encourages her peers and fellow community to carry hygiene kits consisting of deodorant, washcloths, toothbrushes, and socks as a direct approach to contribute to the homeless crisis. Bridge of Light also has links for donations on their website.