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Walk-A-Mile raises awareness

SERVING THE PUBLIC:Michael Houser, right, andTammy Sebock from New Life Community Church serve free breakfast to participants in the 14th annual Grant County Rescue Mission's Walk-A-Mile at the YMCA of Grant County on Saturday morning.

BY Emily Rachelle Russell - erussell@chronicle-tribune.com

The 14th annual Grant County Rescue Mission’s Walk-A-Mile on Saturday morning saw over 200 participants walk to raise awareness and funds for the needs of homeless people in Grant County.

This was Lacey Troyer’s first year walking at the event. She has lived at the Open Heart Women’s Shelter, a branch of the Grant County Rescue Mission, for eight months.

Troyer has been homeless three times in her life. Homelessness is something people can’t truly grasp until they’ve lived it, she said.

“Homelessness is known, but people don’t recognize it as an issue,” Troyer said.

Open Heart Women’s Shelter Director Linda Johnson has been with the shelter for nine years, first as a resident and now as director. She believes this walk is one important effort to show homeless people that there is hope.

People who are not homeless need to better recognize and understand that homelessness can happen to anyone in a single moment, Johnson said. Shelters do what they can to serve the homeless population, but Open Heart has had to turn women and their children away due to a lack of space.

Johnson hopes to see the community better understand and empathize with homeless people, leading to more proactive support and a dispelling of stigma.

“We walk to show them the cold the homeless have to endure,” Johnson said. “Homelessness does not discriminate.”

New Life Community Church serves breakfast to the walkers for free each year at this event. The church’s Event Coordinator Michael Houser pointed out that this service is about both supporting the Rescue Mission and serving the public.

Church volunteer Tammy Sebock has helped with breakfast at the walk for three years. She believes in the goal and vision of the walk and wants to support that cause through her service.

“(The walk) brings awareness to our homeless,” Sebock said. “(The church breakfast) helps sponsor them and helps our community.”

To learn more about the Grant County Rescue Mission and how to support its work, visit mygcrm.org.