Walk seeks to demonstrate hardships of Waco homeless

Baylor graduate and Mission Waco staff member Jerrod Clark performs in a play during the Mission Waco Banquet Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011. Mission Waco cares for the homeless by providing food and shelter but also teaches them to respect themselves. They often hold events to educate the community on struggles the homeless face.
Makenzie Mason | Round Up Photo Editor

By Jordan Hearne

On Sunday, Waco residents have the opportunity to learn about the life of the homeless by walking a mile in their shoes.

Walk for the Homeless, a 1.4-mile educational prayer walk organized by Mission Waco, will begin at 8 a.m.

Jimmy Dorrell, executive director and co-founder of Mission Waco, said the walk is a way to advocate for the poor and homeless community.

“The goal of the walk is to engage people to help and volunteer,” Dorrell said.

The walk will start at the Mission Waco Meyer Center for Urban Ministries at Washington and 12th Street and will continue through Waco, stopping at locations that cater to the homeless.

At each location, a speaker will explain what the particular location does and pray for the organization and its efforts.

Dorrell said he hopes the walk will educate the public about what it means to be homeless.

“Homeless people are just like us. Some just are down from economy, and some are chronic,” Dorrell said.

Mission Waco’s goal is to provide the chronic homeless of the community with shelter and food and teaches them how to respect themselves again and gain work skills for the future.

Chronic homelessness is defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as an unaccompanied disabled individual who has been continuously homeless for over one year.

“We don’t do for them what they can do for themselves,” Dorrell said.

He said after the first few days of living at Mission Waco, homeless residents are expected to pay rent, which is sometimes earned through completing odd jobs around the facilities.

Participants in the walk are encouraged to bring hygiene items to donate, such as toothbrushes and deodorant. Another way people can get involved is by donating $35 to Shoes for the Homeless through Mission Waco’s website until Saturday.

The program will use the money to buy brand-new fitted shoes for the homeless community that will be handed out at the beginning of the Walk for the Homeless.

Mission Waco is a part of the City of Waco’s 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. The mayor’s Homelessness Committee was formed in 2005 in order to provide supportive housing to fix the problem of chronic homelessness.

The plan outlines the steps necessary to achieve this goal, including addressing the problems that lead to chronic homelessness and poverty.

Dr. Gaynor Yancey, a professor in the Baylor School of Social Work, encouraged Baylor students to join in the walk.

“I hope it might spur some students on to do other things that form a long-lasting relationship between them and the homeless community,” Yancey said.

Dorrell said that the walk might give more of an insight to what homelessness means to a Baylor student.

Walk for the Homeless will continue until 10:30 a.m., ending at the 19th anniversary celebration of Church Under the Bridge, where walkers are invited to enjoy the morning’s worship service.