As a VISTA Volunteer in Washington DC, during the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, I was shaken to see the makeshift shacks in Resurrection City on the Mall. Little did I imagine then that we would still be combatting homelessness, poverty, and racial divide five decades hence. Yet, we are. Boston ranks 3rd among American cities for its numbers of homeless families; moreover, 84 percent of the homeless are single mothers with young children. These shocking figures were my motivation to join the TBE Racial Justice Initiative Team for this year’s Winter Walk.
The Winter Walk is a yearly event raising awareness and financial support to help eradicate homelessness in Greater Boston.
Leaders of the initiative believe that an end to homelessness is within our reach.
In “normal times,” the Winter Walk is a two-mile quiet stroll through Downtown Boston to support Boston’s most vulnerable population, namely homeless children and adults. The occasion is a chance to link arms with those who experience homelessness, listen with empathy to their stories, show that we care about their lives, and affirm our commitment to do what we can to ease their struggles. This year, because of the Covid epidemic, the TBE Team, along with others throughout Greater Boston participated in a two mile walk within our own community.
This year the TBE Team exceeded our goal and raised just short of $10,000.
My family and I are not new to a concern for the homeless. Rather than requesting flowers or balloons for a centerpiece at our son’s 1999 Bar Mitzvah, Jeff chose vegetables from a local farm that he could distribute to the Pine Street Inn the following day. That same year, we initiated a family tradition of volunteering as servers or kitchen workers there on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. If you have never volunteered at a homeless shelter, it is an eye-opening experience. It is often too easy to prejudge people who are in such a situation without knowing the true story behind their misery. Many homeless people are well educated but have experienced a life-changing event. If you have never seen what living in a homeless shelter is like, with the smell of strong disinfectants permeating the air, I urge you to do so. As much as the shelters attempt to treat their residents as guests, the experience is not dignified.
The Winter Walk is an easily accommodated venue for serving destitute people. The TBE team huffed along in the cold, happy that we could contribute our efforts to this important regional venture.
Photo: TBE Winter Walk Team 2021