By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Walkers from across the area flocked to the grounds of the Evansville State Hospital on the city’s east side Sept. 24 for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s 15th Annual Friends of the Poor Walk. A large group completed a one-mile circuit around the hospital grounds as a symbolic way of walking a mile in the shoes of the poor – and they raised funds for SVdP parish councils.
“This event takes a lot of work, and we are grateful to all of the volunteers who make it happen – especially Bill Hussmann, our walk chairman,” said Joe Cook executive director of the Evansville district of St. Vincent de Paul. “Bill has chaired the walk all 15 years, and we really appreciate his passion and dedication.”
Hussmann welcomed walkers and talked about how the event benefits the poor across the Evansville area. As he and Cook explained, funds raised through sponsorship – there were more than 606 sponsors again this year – benefit the district, especially the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.
Hussmann talked about a pandemic hangover that has led to more and more families and individuals reaching out for help. He said, “With energy costs, transportation costs and food costs continuing to rise, people are hurting. They are looking for a hand up.”
During his opening comments, Cook announced that sponsors enabled SVdP to exceed its fundraising goal for the second straight year. He said, “Last year, we set a goal of $25,000, and we reached $28,600. This year, we set a goal of $30,000, and we passed it this week. It’s a new all-time high for us. We are truly grateful to all of our sponsors and walkers.
“All of the money we raise goes straight to the people who need it.”
Cook also thanked the walk’s title sponsors – Tri State Bearing, the Harmon family and Ashley Furniture Homestore. Walkers began the event by moving through a lane with signs recognizing all sponsors.
Walkers make donations at the annual event, and they stipulate which parish council receives their donations. St. Vincent de Paul parish councils form the foundation of the organization’s efforts to help the needy across our 12 counties.
Tim Gehlhausen returned again this year dressed at St. Vincent de Paul to lead the walkers as they began the circuit around the hospital grounds. Gehlhausen carries on the tradition of the late Vince Brenner, who dressed as St. Vincent and attended the walk for many years.
For more information on St. Vincent de Paul and ways you can help, visit https://www.svdpevansville.org/.