Recently, students from Ross Medical Education Center campus in Kokomo, Indiana found a unique way to help out in their community. The morning Medical Insurance Billing and Office Administration class asked if the campus could participate in the Walk a Mile in My Shoes fundraiser for the Kokomo Rescue Mission. Beth Sallee, Medical Insurance Billing and Office Administration student believed this would be a great event for students and staff to participate in to show their community support. “This was great to see students excited about supporting our community,” shared Campus Director Shannon Spencer. “Our Kokomo Ross has a relationship with Open Arms and I was able to share how our journey began with them.”
The Ross journey with Open Arms began four years ago when a student came to the campus for help with living arrangements. She had been living out of her car, working for a cab company, and attending Ross. She was to a point where she just could not continue living like she was. “We were able to help provide her with information and guidance to get into Open Arms Women’s Program,” shared Shannon Spencer. “She lived there for about four months where she then was able to get a job after her externship and now has her own apartment. She comes back often to let us know how she is doing and oftentimes talks with students to encourage them then can do it!!
The Walk a Mile in My Shoes event is a one-mile round trip walk from Kokomo Rescue Mission main building to Open Arms. The proceeds from the event benefit the Open Arms Shelter for Women and Children. More than 500 people and 74 teams made Saturday’s Walk-A-Mile In My Shoes Event for the Kokomo Rescue Mission a huge success. The one-mile walk in cold winter conditions raised just under $129,000 for the Kokomo Rescue Mission. It’s the Mission’s largest annual fundraising event and is held purposely in February to demonstrate the conditions the homeless face during an Indiana winter.
During this one mile time walkers stopped to read colored signs that were placed along the trail, each continuing a story of a woman or child that could be served by Open Arms. Once arriving at the women and children’s shelter, participants followed red, green, yellow, and purple footsteps throughout the facility, learning more about their person’s journey. “We followed the story of Lyla throughout the facility,” shared Shannon Spencer. “Lyla’s journey ended with her dying from diabetic ketoacidosis, a result of her drinking that weekend with old friends. Not all stories were sad and you have no idea where each person’s story will end.”
Open Arms can house about 62 people, depending on the number of children women have, and the average stay is about eight months. Kokomo Rescue Mission Director Van Taylor said it only costs $44.31 to house a woman and a child for one day. This fundraiser funds 60% of the budget for the year.