A local fundraiser invites Winnipeggers to walk through West Broadway on Oct. 1 and see the effects of poverty in the community firsthand.
Walk a Mile In My Shoes is organized by the West Broadway Community Ministry to obtain funding for the needy in the community and to create awareness about the dire circumstances in which the less fortunate live.
Walk participants are given passports which are stamped at various places they visit during the walk around West Broadway. Lynda Trono, the Community Minister of West Broadway Community Ministry, explains this walk provides a hands-on way to engage some of the issues affecting the people.
“I think it creates a better understanding of the situation and increases compassion for those who are struggling for a better life,” she says.
Trono says our current system of caring for the most vulnerable in society is not very effective.
“People on EIA only get $3.96 a day as a food allowance,” she says. As a result, people may spend most of their days in various lineups for places like food banks and soup kitchens.
Trono also explains cheaper housing is often substandard or unsafe. When the need arises for the inhabitants to vacate a home, whatever the cause, the homeowner is forced to start fresh with an already meagre existence.
“If you find yourself in a situation where you are forced to move but can’t afford a mover and can’t fit all your stuff into a grocery cart, you lose everything and have to start all over again,” Trono says.
Trono says that the Walk a Mile In My Shoes event is the Ministry’s core funding platform.
“By raising our own funds, we can keep the lights on in the building, repair the dishwasher when it breaks down and continue to have an infrastructure,” Trono says.
The money raised through the walk is used to sustain programs and fund basic maintenance. Trono explains that while they receive grants which go a long way to help the community, grants do not provide stability.
“It’s like we lurch from one grant to the next and then lose a whole program when we don’t get a grant,” she says.
The Walk a Mile In My Shoes fund-raiser helps fill in those gaps.
People on Employment and Income Assistance (EIA), people with disabilities, seniors and the working poor are groups the West Broadway Community Ministry caters to.
“Another real basic need for people is friendship,” Trono says.
A lot of people who take part in the program are lonely, and Trono acknowledges “this can be crippling to your sense of well-being.”
She says the Walk a Mile In My Shoes fundraiser also creates an opportunity for people to connect, build friendships and to get a sense of what poverty does to our society.
See www.westbroadwaycm.org/walkamileinmyshoes.htm for more.