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Walkers Help the Homeless

Community organizations and schools work together in mini-walks.

A lot of sneakers will be getting a workout this month and next as walkers take to the streets to raise money for the homeless. Participating once again this year are the corridor’s three main community partners: Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services (GSHFS); New Hope Housing and United Community Ministries (UCM).

Shannon Steene, executive director of Good Shepherd Housing & Family Services, said that they are working to recruit 1,250 walkers and earn a $25,000 incentive from the Fannie Mae Foundation.

“There is a strong need for community members to walk and support GSHFS,” Steene said. “Every person that designates our agency gets us closer to the goal of bringing all $25,000 here to our community. We are fortunate to engage local students in mini-walks. We have already confirmed several long-standing partnerships with Groveton, John

Adams and Douglas MacArthur Elementary Schools — and a few more are still trying to work a mini-walk for GSHFS into the calendar. The funds we raise are a key to keeping our services to clients fully operational. And, the need continues to grow.”

CHRIS BRAMANTE, community outreach and volunteer coordinator for New Hope Housing, said that they are doing several school walks. Hybla Valley Elementary School walked last Friday; Bush Hill Elementary walks on Friday, Oct. 21, and Burgundy Farm Country Day School walks on Wednesday, Oct. 26 — these three schools walk in support of New Hope Housing.

The Bush Hill walk starts at 9:30 and goes till 11. Burgundy's children walk throughout the morning through their physical education classes.

The Hybla Valley walk raised $11,000, which comes not from the students, but is instead based on the registration fees that supporters are asked to pay for the students, plus the $5,000 bonus that Fannie Mae gives for having over 250 registered walkers.

“We anticipate similar numbers from Bush Hill — they will probably have over 400 registered walkers.” Bramante said. “Burgundy Farm has 250 students, and they usually have 100 percent participation (Burgundy parents pay the registration fees for their students), so that's over $3,700 in fees, plus the $5,000 bonus. As you can see, this is a very important fund-raiser.”

UNITED COMMUNITY MINISTRIES, INC. (UCM) has a new twist this year. In addition to doing its walks at schools and at its office, it also does a Doggie Walk for the Homeless on Saturday, Oct. 22. Walkers can come to Fort Hunt Park with their furry friends anytime between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and stay as long as they like.

On-site registration opens at 8:30 a.m. at Pavilion “D” at Fort Hunt Park.

“You can do one or more circuits around the serene park, get some exercise and know you are helping your neighbors,” said Tracy Davis, development officer at UCM. “You will receive a walk-a-thon t-shirt and a bandanna for your pet.”

Registration is $25 per adult and $15 per youth (age 25 and under) and all registration fees will be used to help the homeless.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, walkers can come to UCM's main office, 7511 Fordson Road, any time between 3 and 7 p.m. and walk for the homeless.

“UCM needs 1,250 registered walkers at all UCM mini walks to receive a $25,000 bonus from Fannie Mae,” Davis said. “This mini walk-a-thon will count as part of the Fannie Mae Foundation’s Help the Homeless Walkathon. The national walk on the mall will take place on Saturday, Nov. 19. The national walk and the mini-walks leading up to the national walk are important fund-raisers for local agencies like UCM. UCM hopes to raise more than $100,000 from the walk-a-thon events to support its programs and services, including UCM’s food bank, medical and dental outreach assistance, eviction prevention assistance, and employment training.”