Last modified: Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Join the IU Bloomington community's walk to fight homelessness
Numerous IU students help organize this year's event
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington students will help fight homelessness through an annual walk in Bloomington on April 15.
The fifth annual "Homeward Bound: Indiana's 5K Walk to Provide Housing and Fight Homelessness" will be held on Sunday, April 15. The event is scheduled to begin at noon at the Third Street Park in downtown Bloomington with festivities and guest speakers. The walk will kick off at 2 p.m. Bloomington will join eight other communities across the state in participating in Homeward Bound in April.
The local Homeward Bound is a collaboration among IU, the City of Bloomington and 13 local social service agencies. All of the proceeds from the event will be used locally to benefit the agencies that provide shelter, food and emergency assistance for people experiencing homelessness in Monroe County.
IU involvement has increased greatly since the walk's first years, said event organizers Darrell Ann Stone, associate director of IU Student Activities, and Vickie Provine, who works in the City of Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development department. Several IU departments -- including the IU School of Journalism, School of Social Work and SPEA -- incorporate Homeward Bound projects into their fall and spring coursework.
"Our planning committee seems to now be comprised of numerous IU interns from the participating agencies," Stone said.
Megan Janasiewicz, a first year graduate student at IU, has helped organize the walk and assists Stone in the Student Activities Office. Janasiewicz said Homeward Bound is a worthy cause and taught her more about homelessness issues.
"As college students, we tend to get caught up in the university experience and have very little contact with the outlying community," Janasiewicz said. "Indiana University is such an integral part of Bloomington that it would be selfish for us as students not to give back to a community that offers so much. From this experience, I have learned that people with jobs, families and stable lifestyles can be uprooted because of one incident."
The event is expected to build on the success of last year's effort. Last year's walk in Bloomington raised more than $60,000 and attracted nearly 600 walkers to Third Street Park. It also is designed to help raise awareness of homelessness throughout the state.
Prior to the walk, a number of speakers will address local issues related to homelessness: Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan; Richard McKaig, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students at IU Bloomington; Joel Rekas, executive director of Shalom Community Center; Michael Reinke, director of the Indiana Coalition on Housing and Homeless Issues (ICHHI); and a local homeless family.
Participants will enjoy music by local bands as they journey down the event walk. Bands featured along the walk include: Gentleman Caller, Laura Cooper, Mitch Rice and the SPEA String Ensemble.
A kids' island will provide several activities for kids to enjoy. In addition to the free food, agency representatives will be present to answer questions and adults can take part in free activities -- massages and face painting have been offered in the past. See the event schedule below for more details.
"Why Will You Walk?" is the theme of this year's Homeward Bound event. The Web site http://www.homelesswalks.org contains stories about local residents and their reasons for supporting Homeward Bound. Teams of family, friends and co-workers are invited to participate in the walk.
Stone said education is a major component of the walk. The agencies and volunteers want to help people understand why it is important to fight homelessness. Along the walk route, people are given factoids by each agency that has posted information for the walkers to read. For months, the planning committee has worked with educators in local schools to inform students about the causes of homelessness. This year, three local high schools will be holding a Homeward Bound team competition.
"We take the component of education seriously because it's that education that helps change people's stereotypes and myths," Stone said. "One of the startling things for people is that there is no one stereotype. There are families who are homeless and children who are homeless. This is so much larger than we realize, and it is our responsibility to do something. This could be any one of us."
One common stereotype about homeless people is that they don't want to work and if they only had a job they wouldn't be homeless. Provine said people become homeless for a variety of reasons, including domestic violence and a lack of affordable housing. According to event organizers, Indiana families must earn $12.36 an hour, 40 hours a week for 52 weeks each year just to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels made an official proclamation that March 8 was Homeward Bound Day.
This year's benefiting agencies are: Amethyst House of Bloomington, Area 10 Agency on Aging, Center for Behavioral Health, Community Kitchen of Monroe County, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Martha's House, Mental Health America of Monroe County, Middle Way House, Monroe County United Ministries, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, Shalom Community Center, Stepping Stones and the Youth Services Bureau of Monroe County.
Lt. Governor Becky Skillman is the Honorary Chair for the Homeward Bound walk. Local walk sponsors are: City of Bloomington, Indiana University, Musgrave Properties, North Star Food Service, Office Easel, First Insurance Group, F.C. Tucker, United Way and WFIU.
A registration table will be at the event, but participants are encouraged to register before April 15. To register for the walk or for more information, go to http://www.homelesswalks.org or contact event co-chairs Vickie Provine at 812-349-3505, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Darrell Ann Stone at 812-855-4311, email@example.com.
12 p.m. -- Kids' Island opens with games and prizes for kids 12 and under
12:30 p.m.-- Kid Kazooey performs at Kids' Island
12-2 p.m.-- Free food from the Lion's Club, the Bakehouse, Roly Poly and North Star
12:30-1:30 p.m. -- Jenn Christie and band performs on the main stage
1:30 p.m. -- Speakers address the audience
2 p.m.-- Walk begins
Facts about the homeless:
- Approximately 18,000 people in Indiana are homeless on any given night.
- About 258 individuals in Bloomington reside in homeless shelters on any given night.
- About 14 percent of Monroe County residents, or 18,611 people, experience poverty.
- About 19 percent of low-income Monroe County residents report that having enough money to pay rent is a major problem.
- About 59 percent of renters in Bloomington cannot afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Source: Indiana Coalition on Housing and Homeless Issues