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Two Miles College students find purpose in helping the homeless, mentoring young children

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Octavious Rush (left) and Lamar Benefield. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)

By Ariel Worthy

The Birmingham Times

Octavious Rush (left) and Lamar Benefield. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)
Octavious Rush (left) and Lamar Benefield. (Ariel Worthy, The Birmingham Times)

Whether feeding the homeless, mentoring young children or providing baby supplies for pregnant women, Lamar Benefield and Octavious Rush are always looking for ways to help others.

The freezing rain that glazed the area with ice earlier this month is an example.

Benefield remembers seeing many homeless people bundled under blankets on the streets during the snow fall.

“We’re able to go back to a home that’s warm, and not have to worry about being in the cold,” he said. “That really stuck with me.”

Benefield, 22, a founder of Brothers and Sisters Inquiring Change (BASIC) Movement, a community organization located in Alabama and Rush, 21, are students at Miles College.

“We’re all about helping people,” said Benefield, a Huffman High School grad who is studying mass communications at Miles College, said. “We do it in any way that we can.”

BASIC has 15 members of all ages, including high school and professional workers. Benefield and Rush represent Miles College. Other members are all throughout the city and state.

They are looking to expand and possibly get their own building.

“There was talk about warming stations being full when it snowed,” said Rush, of the weather earlier this month. “It would be great if we had a building to provide.”

They also would like to start a foodbank and summer camp program for underserved children.

“Not everyone can afford a $400-$500 summer camp, but the kids still deserve the chance to have a good summer,” Rush said. “Funds shouldn’t be a problem for these kids.”

Rush, who is also a pastor, said he is hoping that they will be able to provide Bible study for students who want to go to church but do not have access.

Rush, who is studying secondary education, said he was first called to ministry when he was 12 years old, and has recently started preaching in places like his home church, Bethel Baptist Church in Pratt City.

“My call was to just teach people the Word of God,” he said. “I want to show people that I can be an activist.”

Rush said he recently preached at a national young preacher’s conference.

“I was shocked because I went alone, and I didn’t know anyone. So many people were coming up to me, saying they knew me from my Facebook Live videos,” Rush said. “I couldn’t believe I had actually gotten a following.”

Rush is hoping that he can touch people of all ages with his preaching through BASIC.

“It’s all about empowering and helping our fellow brother,” Rush said. “That’s what we’re trying to spread.”

Benefield said the group wants to continue to make an impact. Most recent they were able to give a young pregnant woman baby supplies.

“Her dad and uncle had just died, and her mother was physically disabled, so she was really struggling,” Benefield said. “To be able to [help] her like that was touching.”