Published March 4, 2022, by Frank Gerjevic
Would that we could Walk 4 Warmth all together again.
Two years ago, United Way of Anchorage gathered partners old and new and restarted the Walk 4 Warmth to help our neighbors with rent and utility assistance. Few, if any of us, knew just how timely that walk and the money raised would be, because few of us knew we were on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic and its sudden shock of businesses closed and jobs lost.
The pandemic that struck shortly after that 2020 walk still has us masked, in bubbles and doing much of our meeting online. So we can’t gather in force. But we can still walk united for our neighbors.
The 2022 Walk 4 Warmth will log its work in cyberspace beginning March 1, and close March 14 with a noon Facebook event.
It’s long been the case that if you give people in Anchorage something specific and clear to do that helps their neighbors, they’ll respond above and beyond.
The specific here is walk, run, ski, skate, cycle, swim, dance, snowshoe and/or mush for warmth. We can raise money by the mile or the meter; compete with other groups to see who can raise the most, gather pledges or simply donate yourself. Make a demonstration, even just among friends. Make tracks. Make a difference. Make a quiet contribution. Mask as needed, but drive on. We can still go big in small gatherings of families, friends and co-workers. Or in a quiet walk with our dog.
The help here keeps hard-working Anchorage families housed, warm and hopeful that they can weather hard times. In the last two years, 9,000 Anchorage households received rent, utility and mortgage relief not just from federal pandemic money, but from the care and generosity of their neighbors who took up the challenge – and the fun – in Walk 4 Warmth and other homegrown initiatives. Those initiatives were covering rent and utilities for shutdown-struck Alaskans before Uncle Sam cut his first pandemic relief check.
That care and generosity will be there long after Uncle Sam cuts his last pandemic relief check. So will the need for them.
“My family is safe,” said one Anchorage mother of a 1-year-old as she and her husband who had been laid off received a check for rent.
When you step up and step out your way with a pledge for Walk 4 Warmth, you’re maintaining the safety of home for neighbors you may never meet. And that’s an act that is far more valuable than the amount you pledge or raise, for it’s not just what you provide, it’s what you prevent: utility shutoffs, evictions, foreclosures and even before those, stress and pressure on parents and children that make everything harder.
Any Anchorage nonprofit that works to keep people housed, warm and fed can testify to this truth: the old maxim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure qualifies as profound understatement. The ounce we give in Walk 4 Warmth is golden, and a heavyweight. What we’re preventing is homelessness. What we’re sustaining is hope and faith in a community that cares about everyone.
I can’t think of a better reason to pull our boots on, take a walk and spare a dime. But if you prefer warm keystrokes to cold strides, there’s an easy click right here to make a donation.