In an effort to both raise awareness and money for the homeless, the Williamsburg Homeless and Indigent, a small, local organization that aims at providing temporary and permanent housing for those in the Williamsburg area who are without residence, is holding a walk-a-thon Saturday, 29 January at 2 p.m. The 1.5 mile walk will begin at the Williamsburg Shopping Center and end at the Captain John Smith Inn, both on Richmond Road.
The walk, according to Williamsburg Homeless and Indigent founder Patty McKenzie, will include approximately 50 people, some of who will be the very homeless that the event is benefiting. Of those participating, McKenzie estimates that around 10 will be students at the College. Other participants in the walk include members of area churches and volunteer organizations.
According to Junior Hadyn Rickett, who has worked extensively with the program, this will be the first homeless advocacy walk to have occurred in Williamsburg.
Students interested in the initiative can help by sponsoring a walker or participating in the walk themselves. Those who would like to walk on Saturday should contact Rickett.
Money collected will go toward renting motel rooms for homeless members of the Williamsburg community. Last November, the York County Code and Compliance Department shut down the homeless shelter that McKenzie and her husband had been running out of their house, citing that the facility did not meet appropriate zoning requirements and was not fit for human habitation. This left many of the people who McKenzie had been helping without shelter, a number of whom have taken up residence in a local motel since then.
Williamsburg Homeless and Indigent is currently helping 18 different people or families obtain housing in motels or elsewhere. In her two years assisting the Williamsburg homeless population, McKenzie states that she has placed 14 individuals or families in permanent homes.
“We’re hoping for a minimum of $5 for person on sponsoring walkers, but it’s not hard and fast. The more money we get, the more [people] we can put in rooms,” said Rickett. According to McKenzie, Williamsburg Homeless and Indigent has a goal of raising $10,000.
Students wishing to make a contribution should contact Rickett. Money is due the day of the walk-a-thon.
“One thing we remind people is that you never know when you can become homeless. Many people think that this can’t happen to them, but the majority of people we work with have college degrees. [ . . . ] It’s good to think if by chance you became homeless there would be someone there to help you,” said McKenzie.