On Nov. 23, United Way of Greater Los Angeles gathered volunteers for its seventh annual HomeWalk, a five kilometer (5K) run and walk in Los Angeles’ Exposition Park. The route led participants through an educational journey, displaying scenes that illustrate homelessness and steps that could be taken to solve it.
Over the past seven years, HomeWalk has mobilized nearly 50,000 walkers, raised over $4 million and moved 14,000 people off the streets and into permanent housing. Almost 60,000 homeless men and women live in Los Angeles County, and the nonprofit organization is working to drive community awareness and action as part of an ongoing campaign to end homelessness.
Jessica Yas, manager of the volunteer services in United Way, says, “Saturday was a huge milestone in United Way’s and HomeWalk’s history. With record registration numbers and fundraising with more than 800 volunteers signed-up to work, it was our biggest HomeWalk yet.”
Lakers star Kobe Bryant, the event’s Honorary Chair for the third year, addressed over 12,000 participants and gave the official start to the runners and walkers.
“Homelessness is not specific to one neighborhood or one type of person. It impacts all of us and it will take a community response in order to end homelessness in Los Angeles,” said Bryant. “That’s why it inspires me to see everyone come out to HomeWalk. There’s nothing we can’t achieve as long as we work together.”
The epidemic of homelessness in Los Angeles County is one of United Way’s core priorities in its efforts to create “pathways out of poverty” by moving homeless people into housing, providing students with the support they need to graduate high school and properly prepare for college and the workforce, and helping hard-working families become financially stable. According to the organization’s website, United Way identifies the root causes of poverty and works strategically to solve them by building alliances across all sectors, funding targeted programs and advocating for change.