Today we’ll be talking with Stacey from Off-Road Outreach. They’ve been on our radar for a while and we’re excited to work with them this week in this interview and in a related giveaway. We are currently running a roof rack giveaway in partnership with Reese Products to support ORO. All you have to do to enter (1 entry) is to follow us ( @hardingexco ) , Reese Products ( @reeseproducts ) , and Offroad Outreach ( @offroadoutreach ) on Instagram and tag 2 friends in this post. Additional entries can be obtained by donating to ORO within our special donation link here. Every dollar raised counts as an entry. Thanks so much, enjoy the article!
Q: For our readers who don’t know, who are you guys? And what do you do?
A: We are a community organization based out of the Fayetteville / Fort Bragg NC area. Off-Road Outreach (ORO) is essentially made up of three programs: Homeless Veterans Outreach, Adventure Wellness and Veggies for Vets. Through our Outreach program we provide hot showers, hygiene kits, meals, and clothing to the unhoused Veterans in our community right from our Jeep. Our Adventure Wellness program consists of 2-3 day outdoor adventure trips for our active duty military and Veterans. We take them camping, hiking , off-roading, fishing, etc. to help reconnect them to the land they fought and sacrificed for. And our newest program addition is Veggies for Vets. It is a community garden that supplies homeless, at risk and low-income Veterans with fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost to them.
Q: What is your background or what inspired you to start this?
A: I work at the Department of Veterans Affairs. My dad is an Army Veteran and my oldest son is in the military. So, you could say that helping our nation’s heroes is in my blood. But, the whole inspiration behind ORO was an encounter with a homeless lady named Princess “Alabama” Whatley. After giving her a hygiene kit one day, she informed me that there were no shower facilities for the homeless. She also stated that even if there were proper hygiene stations, she was homeless, how would she get transportation there. I saw a need in my community that wasn’t being met and my Jeep inspired me to do something about it. I had a hot shower on my Jeep already for going off grid. I thought, why not bring the shower to them. This is such an amazing story. I encourage your readers to go to our website www.offroadoutreach.com to get the full background on how we got started.
Q: What was the hardest part about starting your organization? Unexpected challenges?
A: Starting the organization was not difficult at all. Being kind and living a life of service is not hard to do. I have a natural passion to help others. However, one of the unexpected challenges was the up-keep in maintenance on the Jeep. We use the Jeep to its fullest capacity. It is also my everyday driver so making sure it stays road worthy and in top shape to provide services can be hard. If the Jeep is out of service, we can’t offer 2 out of 3 of our programs.
Q: What has been the most rewarding thing?
A: I would say the camaraderie I have formed with the Veterans we serve. It has been such a humbling experience to get to hear their stories.
Q: Is there anything about the overland rigs that make them better for this than say a family van or sedan?
A: The Jeep being recognized as a military vehicle has made our services more appealing to our Veterans. It has helped build trust in a unique way. It’s also a great conversation starter which is often the hardest part when trying to reach our homeless Veteran community. Some of the encampments we go to can only be accessed by 4WD. Having everything attached and contained on the Jeep makes it really easy to offer “street side” services. I don’t think I would be able to get the same results with a family van or sedan.
Q: What are your 3 favorite mods that prove to be helpful to not just your adventures, but also your community mission.
A: Having on board hot water is definitely my favorite mod. It has been a game changer in both our Outreach and Adventure Wellness programs. We used a Sit, Shower, Shave kit from Synergy Manufacturing that includes a heat exchanger. It pairs well with the Quick Pitch Shower Suite. Our second favorite mod due to it’s simple yet effective design to ensure privacy during showers. All of this couldn’t be powered without a dual battery system. Which is why I would say our third favorite mod on the ORO Jeep is the Genesis Off-Road dual battery kit with G-Screen Monitoring. This kit powers all of our off-road lights, our ARB fridge, the water pump for the shower, and many more accessories flawlessly.
Q: What’s next? What are you planning?
A: We will be working on our Veggies for Vets Program that was just launched a few months ago. Covid-19 restrictions have made the initial start-up in the garden challenging to say the least. But we are excited to offer these new services to our Veterans that may be experiencing food insecurity. It is just a more meaningful way to give back I think.
Q: Let’s try to pay it forward, what is another organization that really inspires you guys in the adventure community?
A: I immediately think of True Patriot Inc. They also offer outdoor adventure therapy through their Patriot Therapy Program. Mike Heath is the President of the Patriot Therapy Program. He is an outstanding human being and personal friend. Mike is passionate about the outdoors and our Veterans. He is also active duty military so his commitment to his brothers and sisters in arms is special. Their mission aligns with ours and we are proud to call Patriot Therapy an ally of Off-Road Outreach
Q: How can people contribute or help your mission?
A: Be kind to each other. Volunteer in your community. Let your overlanding or adventure rig inspire you to do something great! If they would like to donate, we have a PayPal account set up on our website at www.offroadoutreach.com. One hundred percent of that goes back into our programs and to the Veterans we serve. There is also an Off-Road Outreach wish list on Amazon where items can be shipped directly to us. It can be accessed through this link: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/4T6GV80M31NW?ref=cm_sw_sm_r_wl_an_PYMGMiCwfF4C8
Q: If someone wants to follow in your footsteps, what is the best way for them to start?
A: I wouldn’t want anyone to follow in our footsteps but ask that they create their own footsteps. Here are 3 ways to help the Veterans in your community.
- Learn About Your Local Military Community- Once you have some basic knowledge, look for an opportunity to meet with the veterans in your local area. Take the opportunity to introduce yourself by expressing your interest in honoring their service by giving back to those who sacrificed to defend our country. In the course of your conversation, you might strike up a new friendship and perhaps uncover a way to apply your unique skills and experience to the veteran community.
- Reach Out To Local Veteran-Nonprofits- Volunteer. Your time is valuable.
- Take the Initiative- You might be surprised to learn that a little initiative on your part can go a long way toward helping the veterans and military families in your community to live a happy and dignified life.