“Uber with a purpose,” senior Hayden Gadberry said when describing his new nonprofit organization, Vessel. Vessel was started in early May and is an organization that provides free transportation to parolees and recently homeless. Gadberry started Vessel when the idea came to him in one of his social work classes.
“God just gave me this idea during class, and I just ran with it,” Gadberry said. “We were talking about how big of a necessity public transportation is in today’s world, especially in rural (counties).”
Vessel is a free-to-use ride sharing service partnered with six other organizations, including Mission Machine and Jacob’s Place, which work with the homeless population in White County. Vessel also works with the Life Recovery Center, which provides skill based classes for adult men, and the Arkansas corrections office, which allows Vessel access to parolees, Gadberry said.
About half of the people who receive rides from Vessel are parolees, while the other half are homeless men and women Gadberry said.
He also said the majority of Vessel’s clients are male; however, there are a couple female riders as well.
“There is no form of public transportation in Searcy,” senior social work major Morgan Spillan, writer of the terms and services for Vessel, said. “To a lot of people (Vessel) is becoming a sure way to get to doctors appointments and to get food for families, on a budget they can handle.”
Vessel’s mission is to provide rides to places like parole officer meetings, work, grocery stores, job interviews, and doctor appointments. Vessel hopes these rides will help people get back on the right track in their lives.
“Vessel is going to give people a chance to get their lives back together, to maybe have a better life and to stay out of jail,” Carla Sumner, a board member for Vessel said. “Even if Vessel helps one person break the (recidivism) cycle, it will be impactful.”
It brings to light how something simple could change someone’s life for the better, Spillan said.
“A lot of days it’s the ride to work someone needs after they’ve gotten out of prison. Thirty days of employment on a resume looks so good for someone who has been in prison the past two years,” Spillan said. “It’s been the difference between going back to jail and getting a job and having a life.”
Vessel is a Christ-centered organization, so faith plays a huge part in what they are trying to portray, Gadberry said.
“Faith is all that (Vessel is about). Vessel is not mine; Vessel is God’s, Gadberry said. “I’m not qualified to run Vessel by any means; I’m not qualified to start a massive nonprofit, but because of God, I am qualified. Because I allow God to work through me, I can trust that God will allow me to work through this.”
Spillan believes Vessel is more than just an answer to the transportation problem in White County.
“Answering this call to service is just answering a call that Christ has for each of us, to help your fellow man out,” Spillan said.
Gadberry said his organization is impactful to many people, just by giving rides, sharing stories and being a listening ear.
“Within the 10-15 minutes I’m in the car with these people we talk about life, religion and family, all kinds of stuff,” Gadberry said.
Vessel is hoping to continue reaching out to people through free transportation, but is in need of volunteer dispatchers and drivers. If interested contact them through Facebook or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.