Enriching the lives of unhoused veterans and others by providing meals, hot showers, clean clothes and kindness from our Jeep.
Off-Road Outreach provides mobile showers to unhoused veterans in various locations throughout Fayetteville, NC. ORO often goes into homeless camps to meet unhoused veterans at their location.
Off-Road Outreach receives donations from Fayetteville, NC organizations and businesses and provides food and essentials to unhoused veterans.
Off-Road Outreach provides 2-3 day outdoor adventure wellness group throughout the year in state and national parks to include camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, gun range and more to veterans and active duty military. This service is not under the Forging Forward umbrella, but is included as information to benefit the military community.
Words | Andrea Ledwell / Photos | George Joell
“Basic human kindness and decency—that is something we all deserve.” For Stacey Buckner, the idea of helping the homeless is one she feels passionately about.
Being a natural caregiver is something that has always come natural for Stacey. Born and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, a natural love for the outdoors was nurtured from the time she was a little girl; a passion she would later find herself sharing with her family. It seemed to be destined that at some point in time these two passions would eventually merge together. Stacey worked many years at the Veterans Affairs Hospital and knew she had found her calling. Being surrounded by the military and having come from a military family, veterans hold a special place in her heart. “Whenever I had a bad day, I just looked around at the veterans who have sacrificed so much, and I instantly realize I should be thankful to be above dirt and that my life is not so bad.”
However, Stacey has always felt in the back of her mind that she could do more. The idea came to her to start carrying around small hygiene packs she pre-assembled to pass out to the displaced veterans she came across in her community. These packs would include items such as soap, deodorant, a washcloth, toothbrush / toothpaste, antibiotic ointment, and band-aids. Stacey observed that most of the displaced Veterans all stayed in the same spot in a tent behind a local strip mall. As she started making daily rounds to pass out the hygiene packs, she eventually came to know the group well. One day while handing out one of the hygiene packs, a wheelchair-bound woman by the nickname of Princess Alabama Whatley responded with the question of, “What am I supposed to do with this?” Stacey was perplexed by the woman’s response and deeply troubled when she found out that Alabama had not taken a shower in three months because there was nowhere to go in the community to clean up. Instantly the solution came to Stacey; “I have a shower on my Jeep! I could go to them!” With wanting to be self-sufficient in her 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited, certain modifications were added by Stacey in order to take the road less traveled. She upgraded to an ARB Old Man Emu heavy-duty suspension to provide a high payload without sag, a Kargo Master Safari Congo Sport Rack, an ARB Fridge, a Smittybilt Tailgate Table, and she modified her bumper to be a reservoir for water. An RV pump in the back axle would later follow as a means to clean up or rinse off after a day out adventuring. All of the modifications would be the beginning stages that would eventually lead to the Jeep Mobile Shower Outreach Program she would commence later down the road. At the time, all Stacey knew was that Alabama and others were in desperate need for a shower and if she could provide the means to do it, she would find a way to make it happen.
The next day Stacey asked Alabama how she felt about the idea of bringing a shower to her instead of it being the other way around. Alabama replied with a resounding, “Amazing!” And so it was decided. Stacey returned the following day with a few items in tow: more hygiene packs, a camp stove, some hot dogs and chips, water, propane, hot water on demand, and a tarp. Once she arrived, the stove was set up on the tailgate table where lunch was prepared. Once lunch was finished, Stacey then wrapped the tarp around the awning of her Jeep for privacy and assembled the hot water on demand. Hot showers were now available! After her first shower in three months, Alabama exclaimed she felt like a new shiny penny! On that day, Stacey was able to bring a nice, hot shower to 14 men and of course, Alabama.
Close to six months later, thanks to the support of family and friends through the efforts of a GoFundMe page, Stacey has now been able to upgrade her Jeep mobile shower outreach program. A Quick Pitch En-Suite Shower Enclosure, Synergy Manufacturing Heat Exchanger (sit shower/shave kit), an ARB Old Man Emu Steering Stabilizer, Mickey Thompson Baja ATZ P3 Tires, Genesis Offroad JK Dual Battery Kit with G-Screen Monitoring System, a Nemo Equipment Helio LX Pressure Shower, a Smittybilt XRC Gen2 Front Bumper, and a thirtyliter water bladder have now been added to Stacey’s Jeep. With the upgrade and added modifications, she is now able to shower close to 50 people every Friday in different areas around her community. Stacey notes that some of the homeless camps were only accessible by 4WD, which made the shower attached to her Jeep even better. Having an equal love for both people and the outdoors, Stacey was able to successfully combine her two passions to create a huge impact on those who were most in need. Heroes don’t wear capes, carry swords or shields, or contain superpowers like those characters we have grown up watching on TV. Heroes are everyday people who find the compassion in their heart to help others and change the world around them by making a change for the better. It is those unsung heroes, such as Stacey, that continue to give us all hope for humanity. However, if you were to ask Stacey, she’d say “I just wanted to provide a basic human need everyone should be entitled to. I wanted to give them back their dignity, and to give them some inspiration.” Sadly, Alabama has since passed away; however, her spirit and memory continue to live on to help others in need with Stacey’s Jeep Wrangler. She recently named her Jeep Black Bama after her first inspiration for the Jeep mobile shower outreach program.
Stacey, we thank you for being a true Jeep hero, and for doing your little bits of good to those around you.
Article by: Outdoor X4, Special Edition, Issue 2
Stacey Buckner and her Off-Road Outreach Jeep