BANGOR – On Saturday, April 11th, the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its annual Hike for the Homeless event. Taking place from four starting points in Hampden, Hermon, Bangor and Brewer, the 3.5-mile fundraising walk along the Bangor Waterfront raises community awareness of the issues of poverty and homelessness and helps provide much needed resources to ensure that the Shelter stays open for those in need.
“Twenty years ago we assembled a small team and hiked Mount Katahdin as a symbol of the struggles faced every day by people experiencing homelessness,” said Dennis Marble, executive director of the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter. “Now, it’s a powerful event combining real advocacy and fundraising. From fewer than 20 hikers the first year, our goal this year is to have more than 1,000 individuals and families walking in the streets.”
Over the past year, more than 2,000 individuals visited the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter in need of a clean, safe place to stay, a warm meal, and other supportive services. Thankfully, the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter was there for them. Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Shelter operates with a paid staff of 12 full-time employees, supported by volunteers, who provide people experiencing homelessness with shelter, crisis intervention, hot meals and a safe environment as well as connections with special services including medical and psychiatric care.
“Camden National is proud to join the Bangor community in supporting the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and the 20th annual Hike for the Homeless,” said Greg Dufour, president and chief executive officer of Camden National Bank. “Homelessness is a real and growing problem for many Mainers, and we want to lend a helping hand. In addition to helping the shelter and Bangor’s homeless through this sponsorship, we hope to continue to provide ongoing support to Maine’s shelters throughout the year. We invite other businesses and community members to join us in working with these organizations and increasing awareness of this issue in our state. Together, we can make a powerful impact on homelessness in our communities.”
Since State and Federal funds only provide a small portion of the Shelter’s annual budget, donations are what allow the shelter to stay open and provide assistance to the homeless in the Greater Bangor region. All of the money raised at the Hike for the Homeless benefits the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and helps support those without a home in the local community. While a donation is not required to participate in the Hike, the Shelter encourages those participating to seek pledges and contribute however they can.
“Having a large number of hikers helps put the cause out there, so that people can see and think about it,” said Rowena Griffin, program manager for the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter and co-chair of the Hike for the Homeless committee. “When we all come together as one at the Waterfront, it demonstrates how we can all unite for a common good and shows the people staying in shelter that they matter.
Added Griffin, “We are also very grateful for the support we have received from our local businesses and sponsors. This is a true partnership between business and community, and we know that if everyone does a little, then a lot can be accomplished!”
Anyone interested in participating in the 20th annual Hike for the Homeless can register online or on the day of the hike at any of the four starting point locations. The Hampden and Hermon walks depart at 9:30 a.m., and the Bangor and Brewer walks depart at 10:30 a.m. For more information, visit www.hikingforthehomeless.org