Three non-profit organizations have banded together to sponsor the first Home Run for the Homeless 5k run on Saturday, September 15. Community Lodgings, Homestretch and Bridges to Independence are all organizations which provide housing, employment, youth education and outreach and child care to parents and children as they move toward self sufficiency in the City of Alexandria, and Arlington and Fairfax counties.
Mark Riley, volunteer coordinator of the event, says this is rare if not unprecedented, that nonprofits come together in this kind of effort.
In an area known for its wealth, the 2018 Point in Time survey identified 1,434 individuals as homeless in Northern Virginia. "The Home Run is a great opportunity for people to support not just one, but three organizations working to help Northern Virginia families overcome homelessness," according to Sam Kelly, chief executive officer, Bridges to Independence.
Lynn Thomas, executive director of Community Lodgings, said, "The primary goal of the race is to inform community members about homelessness and encourage them to become involved."
Riley said, "It would be nice to net, say, ten grand but this isn't about the money; it's about the visibility for the good work of these organizations." Riley said their goal is to get 250 participants, the maximum allowed. "But it is difficult to go to 250 the first year from scratch."
Riley says the race is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at Bluemont Park shelter on Manchester Street in Arlington. It will follow the W&OD trail almost to Falls Church and end back at Bluemont Park.
Riley says he has organized other races such as the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. His role for this race is to be the coordinator go-to guy. He says this race involves getting three permits: for the trail, the shelter and the overall special events permit. "You have to make sure it is on the county calendar."
“Then you get your people lined up” — the host beneficiaries and leadership group and the sponsors. "I help with the parking, the food and the music. It sets a mood." Two other essential pieces are the race management company to help time the race and provide the cones and barrels and other necessary equipment. And, of course, the T-shirts for people and this year "really nifty medals. The children love the medals more."
Riley says County Board member John Vihstadt probably inspired the impetus for this event. "Two years ago he contacted me to find out about Homestretch because they were doing a fundraiser for their childcare." One thing led to another and these three groups got together.
Register for the race at https://goo.gl/GtrFqe. Registration fees are $40 for 18-years and older and $25 for 6-17 years. Online registration ends Sept. 13 unless it has already sold out. Packet pick up will be Friday, Sept. 14 at Christ Church in Arlington from 5-7p.m. And on Saturday before the race starting at 7 a.m.
Is Riley running the 5k? "Those days are over, but I did sign up."