Fred Barley is nothing if not persistent.
Officers found the 19-year-old sleeping in a tent outside Georgia's Gordon State College over the weekend and listened to his amazing story about why he was doing something that could have been considered trespassing, WSB-TV reports.
Barley is homeless. He told officers that he had ridden his little brother's bike— carrying two duffel bags with all he owned and two gallons of water—cycling six hours from Conyers, Ga., to Barnesville, Ga., in order to register for classes for his second semester at school.
Unfortunately, the campus's dorms do not open until August. Barley had a solution for that, pitching a tent in some bushes on campus and ready to spend the next few weeks camped out with nothing other than a box of cereal to eat.
Before officers had come upon him, Barley had spent the day searching for a job and had just gotten back to the tent Saturday night when officers responded to a call about his makeshift camp.
The officers explained to the biology major—who wants to go to medical school—that he couldn't sleep where he was, and then took Barley to a local motel, covering two nights for him, WSB-TV reports.
“The stuff that’s happening with police officers, I am black, and he didn’t care what color I was. He just helped me, and that meant a lot,” Barley said. “He was so understanding and he said, ‘I definitely I applaud you for doing this. We can’t allow you to stay here, but I have somewhere you can stay.’"
The interaction could have ended there, but an officer's wife could not keep silent and posted Barley's story to a Barnesville community Facebook page. The community soon rallied around the persistent teen.
“I was shocked by how much support people will give from Lamar County and counties all over, and even people from across the country that I’ve never met just wanted to help so much in my life. I was just so shocked and grateful,” Barley told the news station.
According to the report, one benefactor, Casey Blaney, and the motel paid for Barley to remain in his room until he can move into the dorms, which are allowing him to move in early, on Monday.
Barley also got a job at a local pizzeria, DB's Pizzeria, as a dishwasher.
The owner of the pizzeria, Debbie Adamson, said that as soon as she saw Barley's story on Facebook, she wanted to help.
“I created a position for him before he walked in my door. I didn’t know his name. I didn’t know the color of his skin. I didn’t care. I’ve been there, so I guess I had a soft spot for anyone who is that determined to succeed in life,” she said.
Adamson says the plan is to keep Barley on the job and eventually teach him how to cook the pizza, working with the teen's school schedule.
“The most shocking part is so many people coming to help a stranger, because honestly in today’s society, this sounds like a scam,” Barley confessed.
“Some of the gifts aren’t as important as the friends I’ve made. More important than everything—the clothes, the shoes—the relationships mean so much more to me,” he added.
In addition to a roof over his head and a new job, Barley has received clothes, school supplies, shoes and a new bike. People are working on getting him a car, and others have stepped in to take care of his dental and medical needs.
On Thursday, Barley recorded a video message thanking everyone for all their support.
Read more at WSB-TV.