Valdosta title pawn company hopes to inspire others by hiring the homeless

Valdosta title pawn company hopes to inspire others by hiring the homeless
Zachary Kolberg
Zachary Kolberg

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Thursday was the first day of work in over a year for the Valdosta man known simply as Junior.

"About a year or so I guess. It's been awhile," Junior said, trying to recall how long it had been since his last job.

Junior is homeless. But after seeing Junior at the Flash Foods just down the road nearly every morning for the past few months, the manager of Southside Title Pawn in Valdosta decided to get to know Junior and discovered that he was a nice, kind-hearted man with a desire to work.

So, the manager offered him a job holding a sign outside of the office. "I guess that's another way of hiring somebody, you know? I appreciate them hiring me," Junior said, sign in hand, as he stood out front of the office along St. Augustine Rd.

"I talked to the owner, she approved it. We went and made a sign as fast as we could and wanted to get him on the lot," Southside Title Pawn Manager Zachary Kolberg said. "When I told him I'd give him a job, he couldn't believe it."

Kolberg even took Junior to get his hair cut and beard trimmed Wednesday and then took him to a clothing store where the employees helped him pick out some clothes, which Kolberg bought for Junior.

"I've been there, I was homeless. I was on the streets," Kolberg explained emphatically.

He hopes this will inspire other businesses and individuals in the community to reach out to those in need. "Everybody needs to see this and they need to go out and find somebody to help. Enough sitting around, enough waiting for this to come to them," Kolberg emphasized.

Kolberg said he hopes that through this job, Junior will one day be able to pay it forward to someone else in need. So far, Junior's off to a good start. Kolberg said Junior showed up 15 minutes early and was sitting on the front steps ready to go to work.

"Poverty gets old, you know," said Junior. "So, you wanna try to stay out of that; make a dollar if you can."

Kolberg's ultimate goal is to start a non-profit organization to help families in need in the Valdosta area.

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