"52 Weeks, 100 Inspiring Stories, 1 Converted School Bus" sums up the Bus 52 project launched by five college graduates last year to spread good news across the beleaguered nation.
Donated from the company LandAirSea, the converted 1984 International school bus with a Carpenter body — nicknamed "Stanley" — broadcasts the group's location every 10 seconds as it travels to communities where local residents are using innovation to confront all kinds of challenges. Followers can track Stanley's travels on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and can read about the colorful community activists on Bus 52's website.
The project team includes social media director Amy Rose Chin, publications coordinator Amy Wallace, musician Chris Simon, film expert Steven Hascher, and project creator Robert Gelb. As a registered non-profit, Bus 52 relies on corporate and private donations to cover living and traveling expenses. The name Stanley is a nod to one of their corporate sponsors, Stanley Black & Decker, according to Gelb.
The plan is simple: to share individual stories that will inspire everyone to make a difference in their local communities. The bright blue Bus 52 recently travelled from Miami to Southern Mississippi.
"Even though each place is different, everyone is the same everywhere. Everyone has the same difficulties: the economy is bad, they have a lot of problems with their job and family, they have a lot of time that they need to devote to themselves. But people also devote time to communities," Wallace told local station WLOX.
She said living on the school bus —which is outfitted with a kitchen and bunk beds — is “a slumber party” with her friends as they sleep, work and play together. Now heading to Jackson, Miss., the team is eager to find another philanthropist with a unique spin or contribution (send stories via email).
In Biloxi, the group profiled TeachUp!, an organization that places tech-savvy interns in Mississippi schools to help teachers and students. Last week the team shared the story of Kemy Joseph, who offers free hugs and hope on the University of Miami campus. Before that, Bus 52 met Tony Jordan of Savannah, Ga., whose nonprofit group All Walks of Life (AWOL) aims to support and inspire local youth through theater and performing arts.
So many stories, so little time…but then again, Stanley the Bus still has 10 months of travels ahead.