BSU helped me expand on my ideas to help people and how to take it further.
During a conversation at the family Christmas dinner table, Alex Crisman, ’21 and his brother, Tony Sgro, commented on a noticeable increase in the homeless population on the Taunton Green.
Their mother, Gina, had instilled compassion in her sons, and both men knew they wanted to do something.
“Our mom was the neighborhood mom…she helped people whenever she could and told us, if you are able to help, you should,” Crisman said.
He’s kept that advice in mind.
After graduating with a degree in history in 2021, the Taunton native opted to return to BSU to pursue a master’s degree in student affairs counseling. He currently works as a graduate assistant in math services in the university’s Academic Achievement Center.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of clubs and activities dedicated to helping people while at Bridgewater,” he said. “BSU helped me expand on my ideas to help people and how to take it further.”
Crisman and Srgo’s initial idea to help those experiencing homelessness was to spend their own money to fill backpacks with personal hygiene items, food, blankets, gloves, and hats.
On weekends they then hand-delivered the items to those in need. Still, Crisman felt the desire to do more.
While working as a pizza delivery driver he noticed a man always sitting on a park bench in front of the restaurant. Instead of ignoring him, Crisman approached the man.
The two talked and he learned the man had just gotten out of prison and moved to the area from South Carolina to be with his girlfriend, but things didn’t pan out.
With no resources or anyplace to go, the man found himself homeless.
Upon hearing this, Crisman bought him some basic hygiene items. A week later, the man was back, this time asking for help with job applications.
Crisman was happy to assist, and eventually helped him secure a job.
The interaction was transformative and inspired Crisman to work with Sgro to go beyond filling backpacks. Together they came up with the idea for the Purpose Locker Foundation.
The goal is to set up wooden lockers, roughly 3 X 3 X 6 feet, throughout local neighborhoods. The lockers will hold hygiene items, gloves, hats, emergency blankets and ponchos for those in need.
Aside from the items, each locker will also share resources, such as job listings and contact information for other organizations that offer aid.
“There are so many people that believe homelessness is a choice, that it’s out of pure laziness,” Crisman said. “We’re trying to remove that stigma…We hope by providing people with easier access to these things, they can focus on getting back on their feet, not just survival.”
After earning his master’s degree, Crisman will look to expand on the Purpose Locker Foundation and continue to find ways to help and inspire others.
“Just asking someone if they are okay can bring about change or even open new doors,” he said.
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