Annual walk strives to raise funds for homeless

Event crosses religious boundaries, changes lives

By Denis Perez, Staff Photographer

A non-profit organization united 41 congregations of different faiths seeking to change the lives of the forgotten citizens of Richmond, California.
The Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP) will host its 29th Annual Harmony Walk/Run event to end homelessness on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Held at Nichol Park in Richmond, the event crosses historic religious boundaries to combat poverty by uniting faiths across multiple denominations including Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and Mormons.
It also unites the business owners, families, teachers and local officials who come together in the name of human dignity and social injustice.
This year’s event marks the first time in decades the event will be held on All Hallows Eve.
Danielle Franklin, event coordinator for GRIP, said that this is a great opportunity to give back to the community and also to come together to unite on a festive day.
There is an expectancy of 500 people to attend with a goal of raising $150,000.
The money raised will go to help fund the work GRIP does.
They do work like feeding the homeless and poor through a soup kitchen. GRIP serves 50,000 meals a year to the needy. They get their food from food banks and from donations made by members of community church congregations.
GRIP also shelters many of the over 8,000 homeless people in Contra Costa County. They have a family shelter located in the Iron Triangle in Richmond that houses 70 people or about 20 families.
GRIP also has resource centers where one can come in off the street and get basic necessities such as a shower and a hot meal.
They take even bigger steps to further help the well being of the homeless by helping them have a more permanent living space. GRIP work with landlords in the area to provide housing with low rental prices.
GRIP is one of the largest non-profit organizations in the County yet Alex Thompson, who sleeps on the sidewalk of 2033 Center Street, has heard of GRIP but has never benefited from their services.
She doesn’t expect the event to impact her because  doesn’t live in Richmond. Even if she lived in Richmond she would never go to a homeless shelter.
She says she has personal reasons for not trusting them.
There are approximately 574,000 homeless people in the U.S. and 114,000 of them reside in California, according to the 2014 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress. About 3,000 of those 114,000 are the ones this race will benefit.
The money raised from the event will help all these programs and resources remain available to those who use them.
The residents of the homeless shelter will be putting in their part to contribute too, whether it be through running or volunteering to help at the event bright and early at 7 a.m. Saturday.