Winter Walk Returns to Raise Funds and Awareness in Fight to End Homelessness in Greater Boston

Winter Walk – an annual event that aims to raise funds and create awareness in its mission to end homelessness in Greater Boston – returns  for its sixth year on Sunday, Feb. 13.

Participants check in at 8:30 a.m. at Copley Plaza, before they set off from there for their two-mile trek around the streets of Boston. (The walk also ends at Copley Plaza). There is a registration fee of $100 for adults, or $50 for youth and students, and  all registered participants will receive a Winter Walk hat, as well as a backpack loaded with information and offers from local organizations. The event, which also includes breakfast and live music for participants, is co-chaired this year by Jessie and Enrique Colbert of Wayfair and Katie and David Beeston of the Boston Red Sox.

All proceeds from Winter Walk, which have totaled more than $2 million dollars to date, will go to support 10 organizations dedicated to ending homelessness locally, including Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Brookview House, Common Cathedral, FamilyAid Boston, New England Home and Center for Veterans, Pine Street Inn, St. Francis House, Y2Y Harvard Square, and Boston Medical Center.

Besides being a Winter Walk beneficiary, Boston Medical Center is also the fiscal partner that allows the Winter Walk organization to hold the event as that group seeks its own nonprofit status, said Ari Barbanell, executive director of Winter Walk.

Winter Walk was held virtually in 2021 and last took place as in-person event in February of 2020, just before the pandemic struck, said Barbanell, with around 2,000 participating each time. This year, the event will be held both in-person and remotely, “so people can join in from anywhere and everywhere,” added Barbanell.

As in years past, participants will walk shoulder-to-shoulder with “the housed, the homeless, and everyone in between,” said Barbanell, while “sharing stories and remembering that homelessness is just a state of being, not an identity.”

Besides individual participants, teams also take part in Winter Walk.

“You can sign up as a team, and bring your family, your community group, or any group you want, and groups can participate either in person or remotely,” said Barbanell, who has taken part in Winter Walk every year since its inception and was also  a member of one of the event’s founding teams.

Meanwhile, Winter Walk, which launched in February of 2017, continues to have a significant impact in the battle to end homelessness in Greater Boston, as well as to raise awareness and change perceptions surrounding the issue.

“We can make an impact,  and we can make a change in the situation,” said Barbanell. “But we can only do this if we change our perception of homelessness, and that’s what we’re doing to change the stigma by sharing stories and coming together to end homelessness.”

For more information on Winter Walk or to register for the event, visit winterwalkboston.org.

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