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OHIO students to participate in Good Works WALK

Proceeds from the event to benefit local homeless shelter

Several Ohio University student groups as well as cadets in OHIO’s Air Force ROTC program will be spending part of their weekend raising awareness of homelessness and poverty in Southeast Ohio while also raising financial support for a local homeless shelter.

The 12th annual Good Works WALK is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 22, in uptown Athens and will raise funds for Good Works’ Timothy House, the only homeless shelter in a nine-county region.

Joining OHIO’s Air Force ROTC cadets in the event will be students from the OHIO chapter of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity; members of the Women’s Panhellenic Association, the governing council for women involved in the University’s Greek life; and students involved in OHIO’s Service Learning organization.

"As a Service Living member, I have been attending the walk for the last three years, and it has been such a joy to see the role Service Living has had in helping the event grow,” said Maggie Krueger, an OHIO senior studying journalism and the president of Service Living, an organization dedicated to helping those in need.

“Last year we had the chance to carry large banners during the walk that outlined the number of people turned away from the Timothy House due to a lack of space,” said Krueger.

This year marks the Timothy House’s 30th anniversary of providing shelter to the rural homeless in nine Southeast Ohio counties. Located on Athens’ west side, the facility operates 24 hours a day. According to Good Works’ website, the Timothy House provided food and shelter to 169 men, women and children in 2013 but was forced to turn away 177 people, including 55 children, in need of assistance.

Keith Wasserman founded Good Works in 1981 while completing an internship project as an Ohio University student and seeing a real need for emergency shelter for the growing number of men, women and children in need.

“I was drawn to people who had fallen through the cracks and were not being helped by social services or government services,” he said.

Thirty-four years later, Wasserman continues to serve as executive director of Good Works. He began what is now called the Timothy House out of his home as a way to provide a safe, clean, temporary home for people in the community who have no place to sleep. In 1984, the emergency shelter moved to its current location on Central Avenue in Athens.

“I am so thankful for the Ohio University faculty, staff and students for their level of support over the last 34 years,” Wasserman said.

This year’s Good Works WALK will begin and end at the First United Methodist Church at 2 S. College St. in Athens and is open to individuals of all ages and abilities. Registration for the event begins at 8:30 a.m. with the walk slated to begin at 9 a.m. The event will include a series of three walks -- the first, a 2-mile hunger walk; the second, a 1-mile walk recognizing Good Works’ service to the community; and the third, a 300-foot walk for those with physical limitations. Following the walk, participants will be invited to a free rice and beans lunch and an opportunity to reflect on the morning’s events from noon to 1 p.m.

This year will mark the OHIO Air Force ROTC’s second year of participating in the Good Works WALK. Eighteen cadets have volunteered to act as road guards in support of the event.

“As U.S. Air Force officer candidates, it is important that we practice our duty to protect and serve,” said Shane O’Connell, cadet colonel, commander of the OHIO Air Force ROTC and a senior studying mechanical engineering at OHIO. “With one of our core values being service before self, we are continually searching for ways to contribute to the community.”

Good Works relies on the community to help support the Timothy House as well as its other outreach efforts. The organization maintains a current needs list on its website and always welcomes volunteers. For more information, visit www.goodworkswalk.net.