Ice puts skids on Durham walk for homeless

Jan. 26, 2013 @ 08:05 PM

They’d been ready for rain or shine.

Unfortunately, Open Table Winter Walk organizers hadn’t counted on ice.

Carolyn Schuldt, chaplain and executive director of Open Table Ministry, an organization that’s devoted to helping the homeless, had hoped the frozen residue of Friday’s winter storm would have melted by lunchtime on Saturday.

“The sun just didn’t come out in time,” Schuldt said.

As a result, ice on the American Tobacco Trail made the prospect of the afternoon walk for the homeless just too treacherous. So, they postponed.

“Safety is more important,” said Paul McFarland. “We don’t want a single person getting injured because of this walk.”

They sat with a group of supporters outside Durham Bulls Athletic Park to inform disappointed would-be walkers.

The walk, which would be the organization’s third such annual event, is one of its most important fundraising opportunities, as it asks walkers to try to secure about $100 in pledges each. The money helps about 30 people at any given time. Often, these are people who live in the woods and whose only shelter may be a tent, heated by propane if they can afford it.

“The folks we serve are really the most vulnerable,” Schuldt said. “They’re human beings and they need to survive.”

She is vocally opposed to the recently passed Durham city ordinance that forbids homeless people from standing on medians to collect money, requiring them instead to stand on the road where they can collect from the passenger side of a vehicle.

“That’s a disaster,” she said of the ordinance. “I know the city doesn’t want them to be seen, but they need help. They don’t need to be pushed further out of view.”

Schuldt said the walk will be rescheduled, probably in February. A precise date and time won’t be announced until organizers can get another permit and secure a weekend when other major events aren’t planned on the trail.


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