Family Promise to host fundraising walkWritten by Betsy Woodruff | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Family Promise of Greater Toledo will host a fundraising walk June 5 to support its work against family homelessness.
“This is something everybody can do,” said Amy Contos, a volunteer for the organization.
Contos, who coordinates the volunteers from her church, Alder’s Gate United Methodist, has worked with the organization for seven years. Her 12-year-old daughter also volunteers, playing with the children who stay at their church and helping with babysitting.
“Just to be able to offer that opportunity to my child has been rewarding enough,” Contos said.
She said that if her family didn’t live nearby, she could have been in the same situation because she lives paycheck to paycheck.
“My parents call me a bleeding heart,” she said. “I’d be giving them the shirt off my back if I could.”
Elizabeth Tore, the executive director of the organization, said she hopes the walk will bring visibility to the issue of family homelessness in Toledo, adding that families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population.
“We don’t always look at the fact that many of the homeless are little children,” she said.
The organization works with four families at a time. Last year, it served 28 families, a total of 104 people, including 68 children, half of whom were 5 or younger.
This organization houses the people it helps at local churches. During the day, families stay at a building the organization owns to do case management, take showers, wash laundry and care for small children.
Case managers work with families to help them list goals and make plans to find stable housing. Because it is an emergency shelter, Family Promise can only house families for up to 30 days. This is not enough time for everyone to obtain housing, so Tore said sometimes families leave the program and go to another shelter or move in with other family members.
Finding housing is particularly difficult for families with barriers such as joblessness, significant debt, and histories of eviction. Despite these setbacks, each family usually makes progress toward finding housing by developing long-term plans with the case managers.
At the end of each day, the families go to a local church where volunteers from the congregation have prepared a meal for them. They eat in a community setting and some of the volunteers stay overnight with the families.
This is the first time the organization has hosted a fundraising walk.
Tore said she hopes the walk will have a broader appeal than traditional fundraising methods like galas and golf days because an unlimited number of people can participate and entire families can be involved.
About 150 people have signed up to participate. Tore said she hopes that number will grow. The cost is $35.
Participants will walk around Ottawa Park, a distance of 3.5 miles. They should arrive at 9 a.m. to check in and pick up T-shirts and waterbottles. For the first hour, a disc jockey will play music and high school students will do face painting. Melissa Voetsch a WTOL-11 anchor, will emcee the walk, which will begin promptly at 10 a.m. Afterward, participants will receive a goody bag.
People can register at www.givethemsheltertoledo.org. Tore said they will also accept registrations on the day of the walk, though last-minute participants may not be able to recieve T-shirts.