By Barbara Bechtold
The 6th annual Friends of the Poor Walk fundraiser sponsored by the Juneau chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul Society will be held on Saturday, September 26, 2015 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church on the corner of Atlin Dr. and Mendenhall Loop Rd., Juneau. Registration begins at 9 AM and the Walk begins at 10 AM. The registration fee is by donation only, a free-will offering. The route will follow the bike path toward Fred Meyer to the parking lot and return via the same route. A snack will be provided after the Walk.
New this year for the fleet-of-foot is a 5K/1K run, also sponsored by the St. Vincent de Paul Society, in conjunction with The Southeast Alaska Roadrunners, to be held the following Saturday, October 3, 2015 also at St. Paul’s Catholic Church. Registration begins at 7:30 AM and the run begins at 9 AM. The entry fee for runners 18 years-of-age and older is $20. For runners younger than 18 years-of-age the fee is $10. This, too, is a fundraiser to support the work of serving the poor in our community through St. Vincent de Paul. A snack will be provided after the Run.
The unfortunate reality is that per capita Juneau is the most homeless city in the state of Alaska. Presently, the 26 rooms of the homeless shelter at St. Vincent de Paul are occupied by 41 adults and 37 children. As of June of this year, 100 households were wait-listed for the shelter.
In Juneau, St. Vincent de Paul also owns and manages 29 affordable housing units and manages another 91 units located around town. Managing these affordable units helps facilitate the transition of shelter residents to the affordable housing units which are more permanent housing. The shelter rooms have a time-limited stay attached to them, an emergency stop-over, a get-your-feet-under-you place, then on to a more permanent living space. Therefore, often the aid continues past the door of the shelter unit, commonly as help with food, rent, utility bills, medical issues, or transportation, as in a bus pass for travel to and from work. Sometimes the ledge is very narrow and a little bit goes a long way in keeping a family “home.” Life without financial assistance is the ultimate goal, of course. Knowing that some households will reach that reality more quickly than others aid cannot stop abruptly.
St. Vincent de Paul is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has provided assistance to the poor and homeless of Juneau for more than 25 years. Any money received from generous sponsors and donors flows right back out in the form of aid to the people in need. The Thrift Store generates about half the funds needed to run the Homeless Shelter. The remainder comes from grants, donations and the annual St. Vincent de Paul fundraiser—Friends of the Poor Walk and, this year, Friends of the Poor Run.
Besides financial donations, St. Vincent de Paul is supported by a troop of volunteers, 24 of whom work for the Thrift Store running the cash register, organizing clothing, sorting clothing and other donations, arranging items on the racks in the store, pricing items, packing clothing for shipment and recycling cardboard and metal. One volunteer works through the administrative office helping with housing, aid and those confounding computer problems.
We are a community of many people all with varying needs. St. Vincent de Paul focuses on helping the financially poor among us. Thank you for joining in this work of service. See you at the Walk on September 26th, at the Run on October 3rd, or at both.
St. Vincent de Paul is located at 8617 Teal Street Juneau, AK 99801 if you want to donate items or come shopping. Its web site is www.svdpjuneau.org if you would like further information.