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The Arson Project

October 12, 2017

The Arson Project is looking to raise $3,000 for their first fundraiser to help kickstart the organization, which is a Christian-based organization that offers hands-on assistance to Triad area homeless and poverty-stricken individuals.
With a relatively long beard, Kernersville resident and founder of The Arson Project Jordan DuBois is aiming to raise $3,000 before he is willing to shave his beard.
DuBois said he felt compelled to start the organization because it was something that had been weighing heavy on his heart for many years.
“Over the years, as I’ve been driving around and seeing these folks on the side of the road and hearing that discussion, ‘Should you help them or should you not help them?’ It’s just something that I have wanted to get involved in,” he said.
As a member of Sedge Garden United Methodist Church and a previous employee of the Kernersville YMCA, DuBois said his faith is naturally built into wanting to help these individuals.
“Going to Sedge Garden United Methodist Church and working at the YMCA, I had different opportunities to serve the community, and since I have left (the YMCA), I’ve wanted to get more involved,” he said. “One thing I feel strongly about is that our Christian faith should be built into our daily life.”
DuBois said when he sees individuals who are homeless, he sees human beings.
“These are human beings. I don’t really care if it’s addiction, mental illness, PTSD or why they are on the street. They are adults and human beings, but that should not have any bearing on how we treat them,” he said.
Over the past six to seven years, DuBois said he has wanted to help in a more concrete, tangible way.
DuBois explained that The Arson Project is an out-in-the-open, personal and visible entity, aiming to deliver resources and services directly to those in need; The Arson Project is working to build rapport and develop relationships with Triad-area homeless and poor on a personal level, with integrity and compassion, but without judgment; and use all donated funds locally, within the Forsyth and Guilford counties footprint.
He explained that there are a lot of organizations in the Triad that work to help get homeless individuals and families off the street, but that there is less of an effort from people going out to the streets and meeting the homeless where they are.
“A lot of this population have their reason to be out there – they are down on their luck, they lost their job and home, and they would happily come back in, but they don’t have a lot of trust and like the freedom to do whatever they want,” he said. “There are usually beds available if they wanted it, but a lot of them don’t trust these organizations or other people who are homeless, so a lot of them aren’t ready to take that step.”
While DuBois is aware that there are homeless individuals living in Kernersville, he said there isn’t the visible presence of people standing on the street and living under bridges.
“Most of the homeless in Kernersville are probably living out of their cars or on the couches of friends,” he said. “Often, people who are homeless make their way to larger cities with more traffic and more resources like soup kitchens and homeless shelters, and where they can panhandle. Those are the people I am keying in on.”
DuBois noted that while there are organizations such as Crisis Control that can help people, he said he is not aiming to duplicate organizations such as these
DuBois said part of his knowledge of what homeless individuals in the Triad need and want comes from speaking with overflow shelters and actually sitting down and talking to homeless individuals, as he wrote on Facebook on October 2.
DuBois shared the details of conversations he had with several men, which gave him great feedback.
“The biggest single need for these people is socks,” he said.
DuBois said The Arson Project’s three main objectives are to provide durable, heavy-duty backpacks stuffed with supplies and equipment vital to survival on the streets; regularly host pop-up meals and provide meal distribution complete with backpack refills, conversation, and smiles; and to develop a rapport with individuals in an ongoing attempt to make them feel loved, wanted, and cared for, and hopefully building trust that can be leveraged to connect them to services and assist in bringing them back into society.
DuBois said the backpacks he would like to supply to homeless individuals will cost $100-$125 and he plans to fill them with various supplies including sleeping pads, socks, reusable water bottles, journals, pens, lighters, ponchos, playing cards, a Bible, as well as some food and personal hygiene items.
“We’d like to have less food and toiletries and more things they would need to survive on the streets,” he said. “We want to buy them good durable stuff, stuff they can use and that will last.”
DuBois would like to be able to start out with purchasing 25 packs, but said if they only raise $1,000, then they’ll start with that and buy as many packs as they can.
DuBois said in the packs they will also have a list of resources of organizations for the homeless.
“For those individuals that aren’t quite ready to seek help, they might be on the road toward that. We just want to help them with their immediate needs, but we also want to hook them up with the resources that can help them down the road,” he said. “The long-term goal is to get them help and get them off the street, but we have to start small and with a basic relationship and that’s where the backpacks come in. This allows us a way to start that conversation with them and work toward getting them off the street.”
DuBois said some people may be hesitant to give to the homeless, but as Christians, that’s not the point.
“I am not a theologian, but it seems to me from the Christians’ perspective we don’t do enough. People assume when they look out the window and see someone that is homeless, that if they give them $5 they are going to go buy booze, pay their cell phone bill, or buy something other than food. But, the purpose is to reignite that fire,” he said. “Maybe they are going to spend that money on things they shouldn’t or maybe they are getting away with it and fooling me, but that’s not what Jesus said in the Bible, He said, ‘Go out there and do it.’ Maybe these people will feel loved, accepted, gain a sense of belonging and maybe a sense of hope for their own lives. And from that point, then maybe they will want to seek help.”
As they get more involved DuBois said The Arson Project will post pictures and more information online. The hope is that they can raise the $3,000 this month.
“In the future, we’ll have hands-on opportunities to pack the bags, deliver the bags in the community and then we’ll do some feeding days where we’ll do some pop up tents and grill some burgers and have some salad and other food and get the word out,” he said. “That will be a chance where we can sit down and have a meal with people that wouldn’t normally have that type of conversation.”
DuBois said his goal is to distribute the backpacks before winter this year.
DuBois said the idea to raise money by shaving his beard just sort of happened. He said even though he hasn’t been clean shaven in about seven to eight years, his beard has never been as long as its current length.
“The beard just kind of started out naturally and I thought, ‘Let’s see how far this can go, and along the way I just kind of got into it,” he said.
DuBois said he had initially thought to shave his beard during Saint Baldrick’s to raise money for kids of childhood cancer, but ended up being out of town that day.
“So, I figured that since this has been on my heart for some time, I would use the beard as one of my initial fundraisers,” he shared.
When asked what his wife, Taylor, thought about his long beard, DuBois said she likes a little shorter and well-kept beard, but she has adjusted well to him growing it out.
“I think she is excited about seeing it go,” he replied.
While they do not currently have a 501(c)3 status, DuBois said they aim to pursue that status by 2018 and are looking to form an advisory board of about five to six individuals in 2018 in order to open additional opportunities and to ensure they adhere to their mission and primary objectives.
DuBois explained that there are several ways the community can get involved, whether it be volunteering their time or making a donation.
For more information about The Arson Project, send a message to TheArsonProject336@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/ArsonProject/ or www.thearsonprojectblog.wordpress.com. To make a donation to The Arson Project, visit www.gofundme.com/the-arson-project-launch.

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