Press Release: A decade of walking for people in need

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — People across the country will walk and run on the sidewalks, streets and trails on Saturday, Sept. 30 to raise awareness and funds for those living in poverty at the 10th Annual Friends of the Poor Walk/Run, sponsored by the National Council of the United States Society of St. Vincent de Paul. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are currently about 43.1 million people living in poverty. That is approximately 13.5 percent of the population.

“Back in 2008, we received the same email every other SVdP group did about initiating a Friends of the Poor Walk/Run,” said Ruth Anne White, secretary of the Society’s St. William Conference in Waukesha, Wis. White has been involved with the Friends of the Poor Walk since its inception. “The intent was to bring awareness of who we were at SVdP and why we were dedicated to our mission.”

The event in each community is designed and operated by the local SVdP chapter in that area. Therefore, details such as the date and time may vary by location. Most events will be held around Sept. 27, the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul, the patron saint of all works of charity.

In 2008, the first year for the walk, participants raised $837,688. In 2016, more than 28,000 people participated in the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run at 240 locations and more than $3.1 million was raised to help those in need in local communities. That is a more than 270 percent increase in funds raised to help people in need since the walk began.

“The most we have raised in a single year is approximately $36,000. This is a significant increase from the $1,500 we were delighted with 10 years ago,” said White. “The continued generosity of our supporters subsidizes our ability to be more generous with families who turn to us for help. The money raised from the walk helps us provide our neighbors in need with the basics like a roof over their heads, food on the table and the lights on. All our lives touch for a reason. We are truly grateful for this and we are finding every year ‘new’ Friends of the Poor.”

Funds raised by the walk help Vincentians provide immediate aid such as rent and utility assistance and food as well as longer term help with mentoring and education programs.

“The Friends of the Poor Walk/Run helps our members’ ability to provide the necessary resources and funds to our neighbors in need,” said Dave Barringer, SVdP National CEO. “While the Society provides immediate assistance to people in need, our focus is also on systemic change and long-term solutions. We try to identify the underlying causes that have put an individual or family in poverty so that we can assist them in changing their situation. We work to empower people in poverty and give them the necessary tools to move permanently out of a state of extreme need. Events like the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run help generate the resources to reach that goal.”

All proceeds and donations from the event stay in the area where they are raised and go directly to benefit people living in poverty in the communities served by SVdP. There are no administrative fees for the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run. Anyone interested in learning more, participating or making a donation can visitwww.fopwalk.org for more information.

One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (www.svdpusa.org) is an international, nonprofit, Catholic lay organization of about 800,000 men and women who voluntarily join together to grow spiritually by offering person-to-person service to the needy and suffering in 150 countries on five continents. With the U.S. headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., membership in the United States totals nearly 100,000 in 4,400 communities.

SVdP offers a variety of programs and services, including home visits, housing assistance, disaster relief, education and mentoring, food pantries, dining halls, clothing, assistance with transportation, prescription medication, and rent and utility costs. The Society also works to provide care for the sick, the incarcerated and the elderly. Over the past year, SVdP provided over $1.2 billion in tangible and in-kind services to those in need, made more than 1.8 million personal visits (homes, hospitals, prisons and eldercare facilities) and helped more than 23.8 million people regardless of race, religion or national origin.

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