Data shows 1 in every 3.3 people in Willimantic lives in poverty. A staggering number of these are children 0 to 17 years old! Many people in poverty must choose between basic necessities and heat/electricity. #Walk with us for change on 11/24.https://t.co/ulw5JCAdcz#dogood pic.twitter.com/wRsz9Efpoy
— WAIM Walk for Warmth (@WAIMwalk) November 13, 2019
This Sunday at 1:30 p.m., the Windham Area Interfaith Ministry (WAIM) will host its annual Walk of Warmth, located at the First Congregational Church on 199 Valley Street in Willimantic.
The walk benefits WAIM’s Energy Assistance Fund, which assists families in need with seasonal heating and temporary energy needs. Preceding the walk will be an interfaith Thanksgiving service at 1:30 p.m., also located at the First Congregational Church.
Merle Potchinsky, the human services manager of WAIM, said a number of local constituents need these funds due to financial hardship through true “crisis” situations such as job loss, reduced hours at work, fixed income or an unexpected emergency expense.
“Indeed, we are a part of the UConn community,” Potchinsky said. “To get a sense of how our area fares compared to the rest of the state, it is overall pretty low income. My guess is that a plurality of UConn students tend to not stay in eastern Connecticut after graduation because there is limited employment for people with higher levels of education.”
Potchinsky said that WAIM’s goal is to make $40,000 and to have approximately 300 participants in attendance, comparable statistics to previous years.
“[Participants] walk through the neighborhoods of Willimantic among some of the folks who benefit from our Energy Assistance fund,” Potchinsky said. “It is crucial to note that though the event is hosted in Willimantic, WAIM serves people in Mansfield, Coventry, Chaplin, Willington, Ashford, Andover, Columbia and several other surrounding towns in addition to Windham.”
Potchinsky urged students, sports teams and school organizations to participate. Students are encouraged to bring banners and identifying insignia for their respective organizations.
“[Willimantic] is the community where [students] live, shop, hike, play and hopefully enjoy during their student years,” Potchinsky said. “This is a special way of supporting their neighbors and attaching themselves more to their community … and it feels good to do this kind of thing!”
Interested parties should register for the event through WAIM’s website. Registration is also available on the day of the event.
Thumbnail photo from @WAIMwalk on Twitter
Grace Burns is campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.