There Is Much to Be Thankful For
At 6:00 am on Saturday, when it began to rain, my heart sank. I thought no one would show up for HomeWalk, but they did. By the thousands. More than 10,000. The rain was even kind enough to give the walkers a slight break for a couple of hours while the walk happened.
Favorite moment before the walk: Going to Santee Educational Complex to pick up a stack of HomeWalk registration forms. I went into a huge homeroom bustling with activity – almost 50 kids. Their teacher, a super upbeat former ad executive, corralled them. They had gone to battle to see if the boys or girls could collect more coins to donate to HomeWalk. They presented me with two massive jars – about 15 pounds each – the boys won. Nice job guys.
The teacher privately told me that seven of the kids in that class were homeless. My heart sank…until…two students, high school juniors, helped me carry the coins to my car. I asked them what they wanted to do after high school. One confidently said, “I’m going to go to the University of Washington.” The other one said, “Princeton.” I asked if they had the grades for that. They both nodded confidently.
Favorite moments at the walk: Seeing so many of you dressed for the elements early on a Saturday, pumped up for the event; the LA Clash baseball kids and the Los Rayos soccer kids coming together to run; running the last half of the 5K with my son, Hopper; the El Sereno Middle School Marching Band playing the “Rocky” theme song at the finish line; the hundreds of volunteers withstanding the elements to make sure everyone had their t-shirts and a good time. It is hard to pick just one.
Favorite text after the event: “Woke up at 5:30 am, less than 5 hours of sleep, and steady rain outside. All I wanted to do was pull my blanket up over my head. I took a moment and thought about the homeless people that might be sleeping in the rain at that exact moment. I got up, dressed and walked out the door with a smile. I met the nicest people, enjoyed the walk, and was proud to be in the company of the HomeWalk volunteers. Life is good.”
That sums it up.
I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in, donated to, and made HomeWalk happen this year. Thanks to you all, many hundreds of men, women, and children will get off of the streets this year. A Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. There is much to be thankful for.
Brad Rowe is a graduate student in the Masters in Public Policy (MPP) program at UCLA. He is currently working on Education Policy at United Way of Greater Los Angeles as a Rosenfield Fellow.