Shelter Walk benefits Northside homeless

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Northsiders can get some exercise, check out local landmarks and simultaneously raise money for charity by participating in Northside Common Ministry’s Shelter Walk 2011 on June 4.

Billed as “a Walk with a Twist,” group leaders will direct participants along 1k, 3k or 5k courses throughout the Northside, including the Mexican War Streets, East Ohio Street and Downtown, depending on which distance is taken up.

The walk will highlight some important Northside landmarks, like the Mattress Factory and the Andy Warhol Museum, and a few lesser-known places, too. Walkers will receive coupons and discounts for services, events and goods to use at a later time.

All walkers will come together again in West Park on the corner of West North Avenue and Resaca Place.

While there is no set registration fee and participants are encouraged register on the morning of the walk, a $25 donation comes with an event T-shirt.

Money raised from the walk will go to the food pantry and homeless men’s shelter, which has been in existence for 30 years. Northside Common Ministries has the largest food pantry in the city, serving 900 people every month in the three zip code areas on the Northside, says NCM Director Jay Poliziani.

The average number of people seeking food assistance at NCM on a per-month basis is around 900 people, up from 750 last year. The food pantry is set up like a grocery store where recipients can select what they need, from produce to canned goods to other necessities.

The day and evening shelter, another important component of what NCM does, helps up to 500 men each year. Homeless men can get a shower, a hot meal and do laundry, as well as have a safe place to sleep. NCM also offers health care for the homeless, utility bill assistance, computer literacy classes and on-site case managers.

In addition to serving the needy on the Northside, Poliziani says the food pantry and shelter directly impact other people in the community as well.

“There is still a huge need for food assistance. The money that is raised does help us purchase food as needed,” he said. “The guys who are sleeping under the bridges and underpasses are able to come in here and get a shower, get toiletries. It helps them on their road to more independence so that they don’t have to live in that situation long term.”

Registration for the walk begins at 8 a.m., and the walk begins at 9 a.m. at 1601 Brighton Road. Refreshments will be provided to walkers along the course and at the end. The walk is also dog-friendly and will take place rain or shine.

Walkers can collect pledges ahead of time. To register and/or to receive a pledge card, contact Northside Common Ministries at 412-323-1163.

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