Walk, Run To Help Homeless Children

Photo by Francesca Fourniillier, Howard University News Service: Marquita Holmes, longtime Bright Beginnings employee, works with children in the Early HeadStart classrooms. 

WASHINGTON – Mariah , a homeless mother living in a Washington shelter, still remembers how her 4-year-old son, Willy, struggled with his speech.  That was before he enrolled in Bright Beginnings.

“Before he came here, his speech was really messed up,” Mariah said. “But they did the proper procedures to give him speech therapy and anything else that he needed.”

Bright Beginnings, which provides quality childcare for the homeless families in Washington, has been helping children like Willy for more than 20 years, and it plans to continue to do so.

Veronica  Zucarello , a University of Delaware student, is one of the many volunteers
who help educate and take care of Bright Beginnings children. 

Now, Bright Beginnings officials said, the organization needs your help.  This is the weekend it hosts its annual five kilometer walk/run at 8 a.m. in West Potomac Park.

 The event helps the organization raise money to continue to serve scores of homeless infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers and their families, free-of-charge. Services include education, therapy and health care for families living in crisis shelters or in transitional housing complexes.

Whitney Faison, a volunteer and communication specialist at Bright Beginnings, said the goal for this year is $75,000.  The moneywill allow the organization to expand its efforts, Faison said.

“We’re building a second center in hopefully this June,” he said.  “We’ll break ground on that, and that will help us serve an additional 100 infants and toddlers. So, all of our funds right now really, besides just general operating fees and anything else that we’ve raised especially with the 5K, will go towards that second center.”

The second Bright Beginnings facility will begin construction this June and its tentative opening date is scheduled for August 2016. The second location will be placed on 4th Street by the Congress Heights Metro station, across from Ballou High School.

Bright Beginnings wants to raise enough money during its five kilometer walk
to care for more homeless children, like the two above.

Bright Beginnings is expanding due to the high demand of free quality childcare in D.C., Faison said.  The organization is hoping for a larger turnout this year, Faison said, in order to raise more money.   “Usually have 200 to 300 people register for the 5K, which is a pretty nice group,” she said. “ So, it’s a good size. It’s very early in the morning, but everyone is really energetic and we have several prizes for different groups and it’s nice to see who is participating last year.”

Despite the cold weather, Faison urges people to come out and show their support for DC’s homeless children, she added.

“I would encourage people just to think about the lives that are impacted by their efforts,” she said. “Every registration goes towards just improving the quality of life for a child who is very vulnerable.”Crowdrise was created for people who may not walk or run, but still want to donate to Bright Beginnings. The fundraising page allows  co-workers, community groups, friends and family to donate and raise funds.

Mariah said she and her son, along with many other Bright Beginnings families will  participate in the walk.

“Come and take a walk with me, a long, long walk.”

For more information on the walk, go to Bright Beginnings or visit Crowdrise to donate.