Harmony Walk attracts community involvement
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 14:10
RICHMOND — Local residents, businesses, and community organizations came together to run, walk and cycle through the streets of Richmond to raise money and awareness to fight against hunger and homelessness.
Contra Costa College culinary arts students volunteered in the 26th annual Harmony Walk by the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) Saturday at 8 a.m. The Harmony Walk started at the Richmond Auditorium and made its way down 23rd Street, Barrett Avenue and back to the auditorium.
Last year, 20 culinary arts students signed up for the Harmony Walk. The number tripled this year to 60 students.
Culinary arts major Melanie White said, “You hear about (hunger and homelessness) a lot, but by being here today — you’re taking part in making something better.”
Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said, “The students live (in and) around this community. In order for the community to support the kids, we have to support the community. I’m really proud of them. It’s wonderful to see them finishing (the Harmony Walk).”
According to GRIP Director Kia Croom, the organization raised about $80,000 throughout 2011. This year, GRIP has a goal to raise $100,000.
Funds are raised throughout the year for GRIP’s family housing program and its Souper Center.
The family housing program is a 75-bed capacity emergency shelter for homeless families, the largest bed capacity in the West Contra Costa County. The Souper Center has provided more than 90,000 meals in 2012 so far, which includes breakfast, lunch and dinner free of charge.
“I get great energy and great support from the community members and partners. They’re coming to work on a Saturday. I get a lot of enthusiasm and it makes it more meaningful, the work I do for the organization,” Croom said.
She encourages everyone to take a stand against the issues of homelessness and hunger.
“There are a lot of poor people in Richmond who would otherwise go without a lot of essential services if it weren’t for GRIP.”
Companies like Chevron, which has sponsored the event, raised more than $450,000 for GRIP in the last four years, according to Chevron community engagement manager Andrea Bailey.
With programs like GRIP, “We will eradicate the situations of vulnerability like homelessness,” Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said during a speech before participants lined up to walk.
Richmond High School cheerleaders lined up at the finish line to cheer on participating walkers, runners, and cyclists as they arrived.
More than 20 exhibitor tables were there to help raise money for the event.