Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Fundraiser to benefit county's homeless

by on May 17, 2014 10:59 AM

Homeless families are the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, and there are about 400 homeless people every night in Indiana County.

That’s according to Carole A. Reed, network director of Family Promise of Indiana County, an organization that provides services to homeless families that focuses on “sustainable independence rather than rapid rehousing.”

The homeless in Indiana County, she said, are “very much an invisible population.”

“It’s not like the city where you see them sleeping on the sidewalks,” Reed said. “There’s a lot of people that sleep in the Walmart parking lots … they surf from friend’s house to friend’s house. This time of year they are camping, sleeping in their cars.”

Through the program’s second Ride and Dine for Shelter event, to be held June 1, Family Promise can raise money to continue providing these services to homeless families.

“We receive no government funding,” Reed said. “We support ourselves solely through donations and fundraising and some grants.”

You don’t need a motorcycle to participate in the progressive dinner and motorcycle run, though. All are welcome to attend the event.

Ride and Dine will begin at Faith Lutheran Church in New Florence, with registration between 2 and 2:30 p.m., followed by a blessing of the bikes.

“We’re launching motorcycle season and want everyone to be safe,” Reed said of the blessing.

Next, the caravan will head to Marion Center Presbyterian Church, where there will be appetizers and live music by local musician Anthony Frazier.

Then, participants will load up and caravan again to Graystone Presbyterian Church, where breads and salads will be served. Andrew Mack will be performing at that site.

A pig roast will be held at Hopewell United Methodist Church in Blairsville, and there will be hot dogs served as well. Performing at that site will be Heidi Jacobs.

Finally, the caravan will head back to Faith Lutheran in New Florence, where riders will be served coffee and dessert and door prizes will be raffled. The Mast Year Band will perform there.

Though each part of the event is held at these four churches, 29 churches throughout the region are participating by donating food and more.

Those who register in advance, by Friday, will receive a T-shirt with their ticket. Those who don’t register ahead are still welcome to attend the event and register upon arrival, but are asked to arrive around 2 p.m.

Tickets are $25 for riders 12 years and older and $15 for those 7 to 11. Children under 7 are free. Plus, those attending the event will be able to see the cars and bikes on display in New Florence.

“This is the second year (for the event),” Reed said. “We hope to continue it and to make it an annual event.”

Last year, she said, 83 riders participated, and she said she hopes that number will be much larger this year.

“It’s really a fun day because not only are we out on bikes … it’s really neat to visit these different churches and see different parts of the county. It makes it a lot of fun.”

Because the center relies so heavily on fundraising, Family Promise is now recovering from the winter months, when Reed said “it was challenging to be able to keep funds,” especially with temperatures as low as they were. “We’re really hoping to have a successful event,” she said.

“This is a great opportunity for folks of all denominations to come together,” Reed said, which is important for the organization because churches of all denominations contribute to the program by providing food, shelter and other necessities to the families that seek Family Promise for help.

To download a registration form for the Ride and Dine event, visit www.familypromiseindianapa.com.



Ellen Matis is the digital media coordinator and a staff writer at The Indiana Gazette. She is the person behind the Gazette's social media. A 2012 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ellen has a degree in journalism and public relations. Follow her on Twitter, @EllenMatis, or email her at ematis@indianagazette.net.
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