Two vital County service agencies partner to host ‘Safe Homes Aroostook’ walk

11 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Volunteers working with two service agencies that lend a hand to Aroostook residents at their most vulnerable are asking community members to lace up their sneakers and join them in a walk to raise awareness and funds to ensure safe homes for all their friends and neighbors.
The first-ever Safe Homes Aroostook — MOVE to End Homelessness is set for Sunday, April 28, from 1-4 p.m., beginning at the Riverside Park Recreation Building in Presque Isle. Participants will depart from that location onto the city’s adjacent paved walking path for a two-, three- or four-mile walk.
All community members are invited and encouraged to join in the walk and to select the distance they prefer. A $10 per person, or $20 per family, registration fee, and any pledges raised by the walkers, will support Hope and Justice Project and Homeless Services of Aroostook, two vital region-wide community service organizations that have come together to host the event.
“My criminal justice students here at UMPI are helping with this event because these issues (domestic violence and homelessness) are integral to the content they learn in their classes. This is a good opportunity for them to help the community and make that real-life connection to their criminal justice curriculum,” said Lisa Leduc, UMPI associate professor of criminal justice and one of the key volunteers organizing the Safe Homes Aroostook — MOVE to End Homelessness.
Organizers wanted to plan a county- and community-wide, family-friendly event that would get people moving to celebrate spring while supporting these two important service agencies. The event is loosely modeled on a similar fundraiser held annually in the Bangor area. Hike for the Homeless, held each spring, draws over 1,000 participants and raises over $20,000 annually.
As an added incentive for community members to participate in the County event, Healthy Aroostook will provide the first 200 registrants with a free pedometer. The first 100 registered participants will each receive an additional gift, and prizes will be awarded to the top fundraisers.
Community members are encouraged to visit the website for more information about the event, to donate, and to download registration and pledge forms. Additional information and forms can also be obtained by calling Leduc at 768-9436 or e-mailing However, participants will be allowed to register on the day of the event between 1-3 p.m. at the Recreation Building at Riverside Park.
The schedule for activities for the walk will feature the start of the four-mile route at 1:30 p.m., followed by the three-mile route at 2 p.m., and the two-mile route at 2:30 p.m. The event will conclude with recognition of the top fundraisers at 3:30 p.m. in the park.
“In 2012, we sheltered 31 families, including 53 children, and 21 additional individuals for a total of 3,848 bed nights. All of these people were escaping violence, finding refuge with us for an average of six weeks while our advocates helped them take steps toward long-term safety. Shelter is a critical component of our comprehensive services, but funding for services is eroding, and we need our community’s help to keep our shelter doors open for those who need us,” said Francine Garland Stark, executive director, Hope and Justice Project.
Hope and Justice Project was founded 34 years ago and provides services throughout Aroostook from Houlton to the St. John Valley. Their mission is to educate the community on domestic violence, give help to victims in achieving safety and to reduce social conditions and beliefs that tolerate and foster abuse and violence.
Homeless Services of Aroostook was founded in 1984 and provides shelter, food and other services to individuals and families with children without a home. The shelter is based in Presque Isle and is the only one of its kind in all of Aroostook County.
“We’re very excited and hopeful that the community will come out and participate in the event and have fun doing it. This is the first year of what we hope to be an annual event, helping both of our organizations keep the doors open as we serve the individuals, families and children experiencing the crisis of homelessness, regardless of the reasons why they became that way,” said Eyler. “We are most grateful to the Aroostook County community for caring.”
For more information about Safe Homes Aroostook — MOVE to End Homelessness, visit