Aaron talks to KARK‘s Matt Mosler about helping the homeless get out of the cold.
What a generous heart this young man has! Way to go, Alex! Thank you!
On Dec. 29, Alex Stafford turned 9, but instead of gifts, he turned his attention to others. At his birthday party, Alex collected donations for The Van, a local organization targeting homelessness in Arkansas.
Alex said, “My birthday is like 4 days after Christmas, so I decided I didn’t need that many presents.”
Alex’s mother, Michelle added, “He came to us and said instead of presents this year, I’d like to give blankets and gloves to the homeless.”
He collected 31 blankets, 33 pairs of socks, 6 hats, 9 pairs of shoes, a bag of clothes, and $120.
Alex said, “Cause I wanted to give to the homeless, I felt like I had much more than them.”
Aaron Reddin from The Van said, “Its really humbling to just experience a child wanting to help and wanting to give like that, because you know it is so pure.”
As the temperatures dive below freezing this weekend, Alex’s gifts will help keep people warm.
Reddin said, “I do look forward to letting them (homeless) know, this came from a nine year old who decided he had enough and wanted to help.”
As he left Alex was able to sign his name on The Van’s van, allow his legacy to stay with this organization.
Reddin said Alex’s legacy will go further with his giving heart, “It just assures them, you know, that our community cares today, and clearly it will care tomorrow when the children of our community are stepping up and helping.”
Kid President campaigns for a homeless women’s facility
Posted: Nov 01, 2013 4:54 PM CST Updated: Nov 01, 2013 5:43 PM CST
By Katherina Yancy, Reporter
(KATV) Little Rock – An Arkansas non-profit group is on a $150,000 mission to help homeless mothers get themselves and their kids off the streets. The One Inc. has acquired land to build a new safe house for women and children, but the group still needs help with materials and the building process.
Women needing a bed at shelters are on a waiting list. Then you have organizations for abused women or a substance treatment facility, but this will be the first retreat specifically for homeless women.
In a web video, Robby Novak says, “I think it is time we did something awesome.” He is the pint sized Kid President who has gone viral with motivational videos.
He recently chose to support The One Inc. In the video he explains, “We want to build a special place for homeless women in Little Rock, Arkansas.”
With the help of the 10-year old, the organization has raised about $20,000. Aaron Reddin says, “That is from all over the world. It has been incredible.” He smiles, “Places I have never heard of in the world.”
Reddin is not ready to disclose the location of the lot donated by Habitat for Humanity. He says the hardest part is identifying homeless mothers because they live in fear that their kids will be placed in the state’s care. “We have found several pregnant women living out in the woods, living where ever they can. I think we can get them off the streets pretty rapidly once we get this going.”
The One Inc. needs $150,000 for materials and volunteers will build the house. “It will be two bedrooms on each side and then a common area and kitchen in the middle.” Each room will have two sets of bunk beds. Reddin looks at the lot, “Anything we can do to try and make that path out easier, smoother and safer. That is what we want to do.”
Kid President says it best, “This is not just a web show, we are changing the world yall.”
Habitat for Humanity donated two other lots. They plan to use them to grow food for the homeless.
Thank you KARK for this great story! See the full piece on their website here.
Homeless Advocates Discuss Need for Womens’ Shelter
09/02/2013 11:53 PM
09/02/2013 11:57 PM
Volunteers helping the homeless in Central Arkansas are now tackling a major safety issue, emergency housing for homeless women.
Aaron Reddin works to provide resources and food to area homeless with his organization, The One Inc. Reddin says over the last two years he’s had a tough time finding emergency housing for women on the streets.
“The number of female beds in town are very limited, there are some, but if we find a woman late at night and if she doesn’t have proper ID, we may not be able to get her in a shelter even if there is a bed,” says Reddin.
To help, Reddin is in the beginning stages of building a four bedroom shelter. While he’s not ready to disclose the location just yet, our crew visited the lot. It’s one of three lots donated by Habitat for Humanity.
Reddin says it will be a place to provide temporary housing for women who may need a few days to get an ID or to find a shelter fitting for them and their children.
Reddin says he sees too many women with too few options.
“The streets are mean and when you’re out there , you see women go through terrible stuff and I’ve seen women do some terrible things to come up with the $7 it takes to stay in a shelter and I don’t know, I just can’t take it,” he says.
Right now Reddin has the land, an architect helping with plans, and a contractor on standby while he begins working on fundraising. Reddin says he believes the community will pitch in to help with free labor, once he raises the money and begins building.
Thanks for the great piece FOX 16 News!
Updated: 10/11 9:42 am Published: 10/09 7:51 pm
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR — Aaron Reddin has come a long way. His nonprofit called The One, Inc. is expanding its farm in North Little Rock, and his fleet of vans criss-cross Arkansas bringing clothes and food to the homeless.
“We got tired of seeing people just have to eat junk,” Reddin says.
He has a passion for helping the least fortunate among us, a drive born from his own past.
As a teenager, Reddin fell heavy into drugs.
“Started doing meth and few years of that took me straight down the pipe,” he said. “Found myself at 20 basically roaming, living out of my car, shooting up with dirty needles.”
Reddin credits his faith and decision to join the Marines with helping get him through those difficult times.
After he righted his life, Reddin wanted to make a difference.
“When I was trying to get clean, I wanted help from folks who had been there, who understood exactly what I was feeling and what I was going through and what I was battling,” he said.
That’s why it’s not hard for Reddin to call the homeless people he serves “friends.”
After all, not long ago, he was riding down the same path.
Recently Sync Weekly did a great story on The Field, you can read the story on their website here…
efforts to help the homeless and impoverished, which once included him handing out food and supplies from his Yaris. Then there was The Van. Then there were more vans and more cities with vans. Now there’s The Field.
As dark storm clouds promise the first rain in what seems like ages, high winds kick up the finely tilled dirt of The Field, filling shoes and blinding eyes out on North Little Rock’s Faulkner Lake Road. Reddin can barely contain his excitement, not just over the imminent and much-needed downpour but over the day’s haul of squash — The Field’s “first fruits.”
The idea here isn’t exactly rocket science. The plan is to use The Field’s two acres (and potentially five more next door, if dreams come true) to grow fresh produce to be handed out to the homeless. The plan is twofold, though. First, it provides food for those without any. Second, it also provides work for those without any, because those benefiting from the field often will also be those working it.
“With this whole thing, the options are really endless,” said Reddin as he led a tour of the grounds, pointing out rows of green beans, purple hull peas, okra, corn, squash, tomatoes, peppers and … well, something. He’s not a gardener. But he does know that over a small rise toward the back of the property there are watermelons.
“Imagine you live outside here in Arkansas. And it’s summer and it’s hot as hell. Now imagine someone rolls up to give you a fresh-grown watermelon that’s been on ice overnight,” said Reddin. “It’s not going to fix every problem in your life, but it’s sure going to help you forget how crappy it is for just a few minutes.”
Maybe that’s enough, at least for some. But as Reddin has taken his relief efforts directly to the homeless — whom he calls friends, not homeless — over the years, rolling The Van into woods and camps and hand-delivering food or clothes or offering a ride or a shower, it’s not uncommon for the first question to be about a job.
“I would say 50 percent of the people on the street, the first thing they ask is do you know where I can find some work,” Reddin said. “Now I can say, yeah, dude, I do. You want work? Come on.”
At least, it’ll get to that point. The Field, which is a cooperative effort between Reddin’s The One Inc. and The People Tree Inc., is still in the building phase right now, and missed out on much of the spring planting season. Long-term plans call for hoop houses and irrigation for year-round planting and harvest. Chicken coops will offer eggs and fertilizer. A tree on the edge of the property already has a bee colony living in it, and one project will be enticing them to move into a hive box that’s going to be built. Even a tree house will offer shelter and a wage for a night watchman. There’s room at the front of the property for produce stands and maybe a farmers market — or, if not on site, then in conjunction with one of the many operating in the metro. Workers can grow what they need and sell the rest. The larger fields can support the charity efforts. A seed bank could generate some extra income. Those other five acres, if they can be purchased, could support livestock. Reddin’s ideas go on and on.
“There’s no model that I know of that we’re trying to follow in what we do, so every day is a new day,” he said.
Though without a model, Reddin is not without expectations. He noted a news article he read about a one-acre urban farm in Illinois producing three million pounds of food in a year. The Field has twice that much land already.
“If we can pull six million pounds of food a year from this, there’s no reason we can’t whack into that nasty number we have here in Arkansas that says we’ve got more hungry kids here than in a lot of other places,” he said.
That it’s all possible is thanks to a handful of partners. Among them are Reddin’s co-organizers of The Field, a nonprofit called The People Tree, which has a hand in a number of community gardens in the area. They’re the ones who know how and what to plant, said Reddin.
“I have not a green thumb one,” he said.
The land itself, and its associated buildings, came by way of a friend who leased it for a business that didn’t work out. A 15,000-square-foot warehouse on site was slowly given over to storage for The One’s outreach and the tons of donated clothing it receives. Eventually, the building’s space was converted into useful rooms for laundry and a community room, but there’s also room for classes on growing and planting. A grant being pursued by People Tree would fund the installation of a commercial kitchen. Another will fund irrigation systems. Even though plans are in place to harvest rainwater and nearby standing water (it’s been tested and approved for watering), Reddin said the water bill is the most daunting obstacle right now.
But help may also come from unexpected quarters, too. Reddin said he’d been contacted out of the blue by producers representing P. Allen Smith, well known locally and nationally for his gardening programs. What may develop is yet to be determined.
“Our producers have inquired about this project, but we have not decided to participate,” wrote Mimi San Pedro, chief operating and marketing officer for P. Allen Smith, in an email. Still, the helping hands, wherever they come from, are most welcome, said Reddin.
“The only things I’m confidently able to do are see, drive and break things,” he said. “I broke a water hose the other day. How does that even happen?”
A tractor is the answer. That, and a failing on the “seeing” and “driving” part.
But despite the Green Acres-like moments, the hundreds of volunteer hours already put into The Field are going to pay off in a long-term goal that many people may not realize is a problem. Among the homeless and impoverished, where having food is a priority, the quality of the food is often overlooked. A study by Harvard Medical School in Boston and the University of Oxford released last month indicated that obesity is becoming the new face of malnutrition among the homeless, owing in part to reliance on cheap foods with higher fat and sugar content and lack of access to fresh, quality food. It predicts as much as a third of the U.S. homeless population is obese.
“This study highlights the importance of the quality, as well as the quantity, of food that the homeless are consuming,” study co-author Paul Montgomery, a professor of psycho-social interventions at the University of Oxford, said in a news release. “Interventions aimed at reducing obesity in the homeless, such as improving nutritional standards in shelters or educational efforts at clinical sites, should be considered in light of these findings.”
Reddin hopes to do just that by offering something other than leftovers and “bad food.” The answer, he said, is to bring the hungry directly to the source.
“I’d never realized, but it’s food. Just food. It’s not hard,” he said. “You put crap in the ground, and crap comes up. It just makes sense.”
Local News Network KATV recently did a story on our latest project, The Field.
You can read the story below or on the KATV Website…
(KATV) A Little Rock man has made it his goal to help the homeless, but he also wants them to learn basic skills to help themselves. For about a decade, Aaron Reddin has been on a mission to help those who need help getting their lives together, something he knows about all to well.
Behind warehouses on Faulkner Lake Road in North Little Rock, two acre of land has been turned into “the field”. The idea is simple, plant it, water it, watch it grow and then give it away to anyone in need.
Aaron Reddin says, “We realized we had a lot of homeless friends eating junk, junk being served to them with good intentions but they just didn’t have access to any good food. We always knew we wanted to do a garden, we just didn’t know how.”
Reddin has partnered with The People Tree Inc, non-profit community cultivators. “They know what needs to go where, what needs to be planted, what should be beside what, what needs this much sun. I don’t know any of that.”
They’re growing squash, corn, tomatoes, okra, watermelon, peppers, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans and pumpkins.
Volunteer, Lisa Harrison calls The Field, a miracle. “To know that God gave us the ground and that we can just put a little work into it and give something back to the people in need. It’s just a good feeling, a really good feeling.”
Through research, they estimate when all two acres of The Field produces fruits and vegetables, they can grow about six-millions of pound of food a year. Reddin adds, “It is simple. I’ve been pounding my head thinking why didn’t we do this sooner. Why do we have kids all over the world dying of starvation everyday and we’re complaining about hunger in the world… food comes out of the ground.”
Chickens will soon arrive and provide eggs. Their next goal is to educate kids and homeless on getting a green thumb and profit off selling produce at farmers markets. “All of Central Arkansas, they’re great. We have folks out here we know, we have folks out here we’ve never met. Folks come out and support it and… it’s going to make me cry if I talk about it so I’m just grateful to our community, we are a great community.”
As many of you in Central Arkansas might have already seen, our good friend and mega-supporter, Hot Dog Mike, recently created the world’s most expensive hot dog and he sold it to help us out here at The One, Inc. In case you missed it, here’s a great writeup on it from the Arkansas Times:
Hot Dog Mike Juiliano stood proudly at his cart on Friday, May 11 as he prepared to make the World’s Most Expensive Hot Dog. There was a roll-away table in front of the cart, lined with a white table cloth, which was topped with five silver platters and a vase of roses. It was clear that a world record was about to be broken.
Juiliano said he had the idea about a month ago to sell an expensive hot dog to raise money for homeless support nonprofit The One, Inc., also known as “The Van.” He tweeted his idea about a month ago, and his followers instantly started bidding against each other on “theONEdog.” In an hour and a half, the price was up to $1,500. Juiliano said that he made it $1,501 because we are in Little Rock, and he is “clever like that.” Previously, Canada held the record for the most expensive hot dog, but he thought it was time to bring the title back to America, intending no offense to Canada.
Juiliano had to buy the supplies for the hot dogs. He knew some local bakeries used gold flakes in fancy wedding cakes, so he tried some and decided that would be a perfect topping for The World’s Most Expensive Hot Dog. The dog – made with a quarter-pound of premium beef – was also topped with lobster tail and saffron aioli.
Sharon Bennett Goodson, one of “The World’s Most Expensive Hot Dog” buyers, chose to buy the hot dog because the money went to a good cause. She said The Van helps people meet their real needs. “I’m a little nervous,” she said, “I’m not a big lobster fan.”
By noon, fans and media crews had crowded around Juiliano’s cart. Old bumper stickers such as “New Price,” and “How Much Is That Hot Dog In The Window,” made for a perfect backdrop as he readied the eagerly-awaited hot dogs.
Reaching into a Ziploc bag full of lobster meat, Juiliano said, “I’m not going to be stingy.” He then invited the cameras to the table with him and said “Ladies and gentlemen, a very expensive hot dog.” He presented the first hot dog to Goodson, noting that he would give her five complimentary napkins to go with her expensive charitable meal.
“It is very good,” Goodson said, “Is this gonna be a regular menu item?”
Bystanders questioned whether the condiment covering her face was mustard or gold. At the same time, Juiliano assured everyone that the gold was “American gold.”
Four other ONEdogs were bought by anonymous donors and given to passersby, Mike’s colleagues and the owner of The Van, Aaron Reddin.
“It was good,” Reddin said. “I was skeptical. I’m not gonna lie.” Reddin said he was going to start saving up his money for another, but noted that it would probably be about $2,000 next time.
After the hot dogs were delivered, Juiliano stood next to The Van and wrote the $6,000 check. “I thank Little Rock because you guys did it. I am just the hot dog guy and he is just the van guy,” he said, before going back to his cart and asking viewers if anyone was hungry for a hot dog.
The remaining hot dogs were sold for the usual $3-$5, as the remnants of the mustard-gold sat unused at the back of “Little Rock’s Coolest Hot Dog Cart.”
In case you are wondering what goes into a $1501 Hot Dog, here’s a great video from Today’sTHV…