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Walk, run to help area homeless children

By Francisca Fournillier/Howard University News Service
On March 2, 2015

Marquita Holmes, longtime Bright Beginnings employee, works in children in the Early HeadStart classrooms.

Mariah, a homeless mother living in a Washington shelter, still remembers how her four-year-old son, Willy struggled with his speech. That was before he enrolled in Bright Beginnings.

“Before he came here, his speech was really messed up,” said Paul. “But they did the proper procedures to give him speech therapy and anything else that he needed.”

Bright Beginnings, which provides quality childcare for the homeless families in Washington, has been helping children like Willy for more than 20 years, and it plans to continue to do so.

Now, Bright Beginnings needs assistance during its annual five kilometer walk/run – rescheduled to Saturday, March 7th – at 8 a.m. in West Potomac Park.

The event helps the organization raise money to continue to serve scores of homeless infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers and their families, free-of-charge. Services include education, therapy and health care for families living in crisis shelters or in transitional housing complexes.

Whitney Faison of Bright Beginnings this year’s goal is $75,000. The money will allow the organization to expand its efforts. 

“We’re building a second center in hopefully this June,” said Faison. “We’ll break ground on that, and that will help us serve an additional 100 infants and toddlers. So, all of our funds right now really, besides just general operating fees and anything else that we’ve raised especially with the 5K, will go towards that second center.”

The second Bright Beginnings facility will begin construction this June and its tentative opening date is scheduled for August 2016. The second location will be located on 4th Street by the Congress Heights Metro station, across from Ballou High School.

Bright Beginnings is expanding due to the high demand of free quality childcare in D.C., said Faison. The organization is hoping for a larger turnout this year, Faison said, in order to raise more money. “Usually have 200 to 300 people register for the 5K, which is a pretty nice group,” she said. “So, it’s a good size. It’s very early in the morning, but everyone is really energetic and we have several prizes for different groups and it’s nice to see who’s participating last year.”

Despite the cold weather, Faison urges people to come out and show their support for D.C.’s homeless children.

“I would encourage people just to think about the lives that are impacted by their efforts,” she said. “Every registration goes towards just improving the quality of life for a child who is very vulnerable.”

Crowdrise was created for people who may not walk or run, but still want to donate to Bright Beginnings. The fundraising page allows co-workers, community groups, friends and family to donate and raise funds.

Mariah said she and her son, along with many other Bright Beginnings families who will participate in the walk.

“Come and take a walk with me, a long, long walk,” she said.

For more information on the walk, go to Bright Beginnings or visit Crowdrise to donate.

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