Free rides to town wins Florala man “Silent Heroes” Award
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Many may not think twice about a quick trip to the store or even a doctor’s appointment, but for many living in the most rural parts of the Wiregrass, their next ride is never certain. One Covington County man is working to make a difference for those around him with transportation insecurity, which makes him this month’s Silent Hero.
In Florala, it’s easy to escape the hustle and bustle of bigger cities, but when you need a trip to town, it can be quite a haul.
“To Andalusia it’s about 20 miles, to Opp, about the same,” explains lifelong resident Robert Thompson, who has taken it upon himself to ensure that his friends and neighbors are never stuck without a ride.
“Some of them are old,” Thompson says, “Miss Bobby McIntyre, she’s 80 something back then and I was 60 something, but I’d take them for rides. She didn’t have no car, nobody close by.”
Thompson takes anyone he knows who needs a ride, without charging a dime.
“I had one old friend of mine, an old brother you might say in Christ, went to church with me, he had to go to the VA up in Atlanta, I carried him to Atlanta. That’s the furthest one I carried,” he says.
Trips have been anywhere from 20 miles to more than 200, but Thompson doesn’t seem to mind.
“It seems like I get a bigger blessing out of it than they do,” Thompson explains, “it makes me feel good. God gives me a blessing from it. It’s just me I just want to help people if I can.”
When it comes to helping others, Robert doesn’t stop there. He also grows a large garden each year.
“Mostly just to give to neighbors, we eat what we can and then give the rest away. I enjoy doing it, and enjoy giving it away,” he says.
When asked what advice he had for others, Robert says you can never go wrong with living by one famous rule.
“Well, that’s the Golden Rule,” Thompson explains, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and that’s what I try to do you know do like I’d want done to me if I needed it.”
Robert did receive $1,000 from the Wiregrass Electric Cooperative: Operation Roundup, which he can use to reimburse the cost of gas from his trips.
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