Hundreds Gather for Community Walks

This year’s Help the Homeless Walkathon season started in October as partner organizations began hosting mini-walks to benefit Samaritan Ministry and the work of its Next Step program.  Over the course of the fall, a total of 23 churches, schools, and service groups participated.

Each mini-walk included an educational activity, giving walkers the opportunity to learn about the challenges facing DC's low-income and homeless communities. Staff members and volunteers led presentations and interactive workshops at schools, adult education forums, and chapel services about homelessness, poverty, and the work of Samaritan Ministry. Three area Episcopal schools were lucky enough to receive a visit by a Next Step program participant who shared some of his personal story and the impact Samaritan Ministry has had on his life. 

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Seven new groups hosted mini-walks for the first time this year, including three Partner Parishes and the Bishop Walker School for Boys. One of the most innovative walks was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Capitol Hill, who partnered with Gallaudet University to host a walking tour of the campus paired with information about the work of Samaritan Ministry. Also new this year was a mini-walk held on-site at the Northwest office, where participants decorated posters and paraded down 16th Street with staff. 

In total, more than 1,500 walkers participated in a mini-walk and took their own steps towards preventing and ending homelessness. Through the mini-walk program alone, walkers raised $35,843 for the organization and also enabled us to qualify for a bonus donation of $25,000 from Fannie Mae!

Main Walkathon Goes Out With a Bang 

 

2011 also marked the final year of the Main Walkathon, which has taken place annually on the National Mall. Saturday, Nov. 19th dawned a beautiful, clear fall day and dedicated staff, board members, volunteers, and supporters came out to stroll around the Mall and show their support for the cause! This year we also counted on the support of many "virtual walkers" who joined the Samaritan Ministry Walkathon Team from their various locales around the country. 

 

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After a quick breakfast of donuts and hot coffee, the Samaritan Ministry team meandered by the tidal basin to the tune of high school bands and cheerleading teams. Without a doubt, the highlight of the walk was a detour past the newly inaugurated Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. One of King’s quotations etched into the stone read, "I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits." As walkers posed for photos and took a pause to read these inscriptions, we were powerfully reminded of the true reasons we walked that day – not simply to support an organization, but to promote the larger mission and values that both Samaritan Ministry and these words represent.

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As in recent years, the Friends of Samaritan Ministry group reached its fundraising goal of $100,000, achieving the highest level of sponsorship. Based on these funds, Samaritan Ministry is eligible to receive another $20,000 bonus from Fannie Mae.  

Looking Forward to 2012 

 

Next year, the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Program will spread nationally and focus solely on the mini-walk component. While we’re sad to see the main Walkathon go, we understand the unique value of community-based walks. They allow walkers the opportunity to personally engage with the issues and promote awareness in their own neighborhoods. We hope that you will consider hosting a mini-walk in your community next year, as they will be more important than ever!

The Help the Homeless program is vital to the success of the Next Step Program, accounting for approximately 20 percent of Samaritan Ministry’s annual budget. Thank you to everyone who participated in a mini-walk, the Walkathon, as a virtual walker, and contributed to the Friends of Samaritan Ministry group! We look forward to walking with you again in 2012 at your parish, school, or in your neighborhood.

Click here to see more pictures on our Facebook page!

 

 

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