By Tom Maguire
If one pair of socks from one donor is a Christmas bounty for a person who is homeless, imagine the holiday windfall that a big group of walkers and runners could rustle up.
St. James Emmaus Ministry hopes for a turnout of at least 200 people July 23 in Syracuse for the Run Your Faith “To The Streets” Walk & Run to Benefit Emmaus Ministry.
Services that Emmaus Ministry provides include hot meals and sandwiches to the Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter; foot care and haircuts for the homeless; hot meals for the Catholic Charities Women’s Shelter; bags of groceries each month for the Loaves and Fishes program that serves individuals and families in Syracuse; clothing and food for the poor under the “To the Streets” Canteen; and an annual South Side Summer Cookout and bicycle giveaway at Bishop Foery Foundation.
The Emmaus event is not a race, it’s a rescue. The price of registration is simply one or more of these items: white cotton calf-length socks, for example Hanes, Nike, or Reebok, for men or women; new or gently used clean sneakers for men and women; new waterproof winter boots for men; toiletry items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, shaving cream, razors, and feminine products); twin bedding; pillows; and diapers.
Those who can’t walk or run that day can mail a monetary donation to Emmaus Ministry, 4845 South Salina Street, Syracuse, N.Y., 13205.
Former Emmaus benefactor and current Emmaus volunteer Kirk Butler said that for a homeless person, “a pair of socks is one of the best things in the world that someone can give you, especially when your shoes are talking to you.”
That, he said, or a little tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush is “like a million dollars to you, a homeless cat; like Christmas.”
Sheila Austin, RN, director of Emmaus Ministry, said that sometimes we don’t notice homeless people’s existence. On July 23, it is time to take notice.
Austin sees the run/walk as a good opportunity for families, parish groups, high school students, and Confirmation candidates trying to earn service hours.
Austin hopes that parishes, particularly in the suburbs, see this as a chance to help the poor and the homeless. “And they can see and experience the plight of the homeless in a little more of a personal way,” she said. “And perhaps parishes might want to conduct a collection of needed items and bring them on July 23rd.”
Emmaus will then process the items and distribute them to the Catholic Charities men’s shelter and women’s shelter, and the Rescue Mission.
The run will begin at 8 a.m. and will be 7.5 miles (12K) or 60 stadia, the distance from Jerusalem to Emmaus as mentioned in Luke 24:13. The run route will go past the Rescue Mission and the Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter, loop out to St. James Church, and finish back at Columbus Circle. There will be several water stops along the course.
The walk will begin at 8:15 a.m. and will be approximately 2 miles. It will go past the Rescue Mission and Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter and finish back at Columbus Circle.
There will be optional stops and guided tours of the Rescue Mission’s Dining Hall, the Catholic Charities Men’s Shelter, and the Saint Marianne Cope Center for Outreach at St. James Church.
After the run and walk there will be bagels, bananas, water, and Gatorade available.
Larry King, Program Manager for Youth Development at the Bishop Foery Foundation, appreciates the assistance of Emmaus. The ministry provides hot meals and baked goods for youth in the foundation’s afterschool program and CNY Fresh Food Giveaway, and hot breakfasts during its summer program.
“Emmaus is almost like the Pied Piper,” King said. “They do great work throughout the whole Syracuse community. We’ve been fortunate enough to be able to ride the wave.”
The message that Emmaus brings, he said, is that “everybody has infinite quality. They give you hope, they give you respect. They’ll listen to you, they’ll talk to you. I think it’s great what they do, and I would support it 1,000 percent.”
Austin said that her organization strives to make the homeless feel more comfortable, more dignified, more noticed.
“Our ministry goes to where they are,” she said, including the shelters, the streets, under bridges, and in the middle of neighborhoods.
Austin is proud to have Butler as a volunteer for Emmaus.
Butler, who struggled with heroin addiction for many years, has been clean for going on six years now. He gives talks on behalf of Emmaus, and he credits Austin and the late David Allen, who was the executive director of the Brady Faith Center, with helping him turn his life around.
“It’s phenomenal,” Butler said of Emmaus. “Those people, they do tremendous work for homeless people, when other people turn their nose up to you and act like you don’t exist.”
Emmaus Ministry Walk & Run
Purpose: To support Emmaus Ministry in service to the poor and the homeless.
When: July 23
Where: Columbus Circle, Downtown Syracuse
Registration: 7-7:45 a.m. Bring an item of need; see story.
Run: 8 a.m., 7.5 miles.
Walk: 8:15 a.m., about 2 miles
Rules: Stick to sidewalks and obey all traffic signals and safe running and walking rules. Police will be available for the safety of all participants.
Information or to register: Call (315)-256-1982 or go to emmausministry.org or runyourfaith.com.