Mansfield native Bryant Richmond is making a difference in the lives of many, and since January of 2020, he has made it his life’s mission.
That mission began after Richmond recognized a great need for the homeless people in the Fort Smith area. In January 2020, he began feeding between 75-100, and before long, it ballooned into so much more.
“I wake up every morning torn between a desire to enjoy the world and the desire to change the world,” stated Richmond. “Lately it’s has been the latter. When I started helping the homeless in downtown Fort Smith I realized very quickly that I could not get emotionally attached with these people. There’s only so much a person can do. Well it’s impossible not to get attached if you spend enough time with them.”
That passion and dedication has led Richmond to form a non-profit street ministry, “Pulse.”
“There is so much that needs to be done to help these people and it’s more than me and my friends can do,” Richmond shared. “So we got to take it to the next level so we can get the assistance and funding we need to accomplish some of our goals.”
Through countless hours of volunteerism, Richmond has found most of those he meets have the same story, they have been robbed of their identification and cannot get assistance or a job. “What people don’t realize is when they become homeless the first thing that happens while they’re sleeping is all their stuff gets taken,” added Richmond. “So most of these people have no kind of Identification and they have no paperwork to go get another I.D. or birth certificate. That makes it literally impossible for them to get any kind of benefits for assistance.”
Richmond recognizes the stigma that homelessness is due to laziness. One, he says, is simply not true. “A lot of people look down on the homeless saying they should just get a job. Well, it’s hard to go to a job interview when you have filthy clothes, no way to take a shower or even just clean up.“
Among those living in unthinkable conditions, are those who suffer from mental illness, and others who have simply fell on hard time. “They are not all drug addicts or alcoholics like most people think...They are caught up in a vicious circle and if someone doesn’t help them, they are never gonna get out of it. Some say they are just out there to die.”
Richmond has begun posting pictures and videos on the Pulse Street Ministry Facebook page, allowing the homeless to tell their story, and hopefully, help others understand what they are going through.
Richmond is actively seeking a partnership with the city to assist with the needs of the homeless. “The city has turned their back on them, they do not allow them to stay under the Garrison bridge anymore, the only place they had to go to get out of the weather. And now they have removed all the porta potties that were available for them to use. They have no place to even go to the restroom now, so they are starting to go where they can…it’s going to become a health issue. There are some shelters where they can go to the restroom, but some are too far away for them to walk. The city has turned their back on them and are treating them like animals. Actually, they’re treating them worse than animals because the city has funded money for a new dog park.”
Bryant asked faith believers to pray daily for the cooperation and assistance from the city. “We need the city to get these people some relief and peace of mind. So when you wake up in the morning in a warm bed and have a hot cup of coffee, think about these people. Many are too old to work or physically can’t. They are sleeping on sidewalks, layered in clothing wishing they had a warm soft bed, pray for them. Do anything you can to help them. Every little thing makes a little difference in their life, remember that!”
He is currently seeking a building downtown in order to set up a free laundromat, kitchen, restrooms, and a place to shower. The facility would also offer free clothing. Once the location is established, a retired social worker counselor has volunteered their time and services. “Maybe they can cleanup and go to a job interview,” Richmond added. “Maybe get those with addiction and mental illness to rehab and the medication they need.”
The truth is, needs know no season, they are 365 days a year. While help is appreciated during the holidays, help is always needed. If you are interested in helping meet some of these needs you can contact Bryant Richmond through the Pulse ministry page.