YARMOUTH – Despite today’s rain, a group of about 45 people are walking from Chatham to Yarmouth, part of the 100-mile Bob Murray Housing With Love Walk.
The walk, from Provincetown to Falmouth, is to raise money for affordable housing agencies and food pantries that help low income Cape Codders be able to continue to live here.
The walk, which is in its 22nd year, raises money for 10 non-profit agencies.
Over seven days, the walkers travel some of the Cape’s busiest roads, like Route 28 and Route 132, in order to raise awareness for Cape Codders who are struggling to make ends meet here.
Today’s walk started in Chatham at Holy Redeemer Church and continued along Route 28 through Chatham into Harwich.
Richard Waystack, president of the board Family Pantry of Cape Cod, is walking to raise money for the Harwich Ecumenical Council for Housing. He is one of a half dozen people who plan to walk the entire 100 miles this year as a way to honor walk founder Bob Murray.
During the day today, as one Waystack put it, “the sky has opened up and it’s pouring on the walkers.” But the way walk founder Bob Murray planned it, the walk was not meant to be an easy stroll along scenic byways.
Because the walk benefits homeless people and others less fortunate whose lives are not comfortable, Murray said the walk should not be comfortable either.
Last year, the walk’s name was changed to honor Murray, who conceived of the walk and walked the entire distance every year for 20 years, despite sore feet and eventually, illness.
Waystack said he first met Murray when Murray moved to Harwich in the 1980s. Murray went on to found the Harwich Ecumenical Council and was also involved with the founding of the Family Pantry, as well as the Falmouth Housing Corporation. Waystack said Murray was his mentor.
“When he passed away last September, I was concerned that his legacy remain alive because he did so much for housing programs, homeless prevention and hunger on Cape Cod. My wife and I thought it was very important that we continue to walk in his memory to keep his legacy alive,” he said.
Waystack said that when people see the walkers along the Cape’s roads, some honk to show support and others stop to find out why they are walking.
“Yesterday out in Wellfleet on the rail trail during the walk, a gentleman stopped his bicycle and asked us what we were walking for and when we told him, he asked me for my card, which I gave him, and sure enough, a few hours later, his name showed up on our donation list. He had actually gone online and made a donation to the walk,” Waystack said.
Since its start 22 years ago, the walk has raised more than $3.6 million to provide affordable housing on Cape Cod.
Housing With Love Walk Volunteer Don Jenkins explained Murray’s influence from the time 22 years ago when he founded the walk.
“He’s just been an amazing contributor to so many people on Cape Cod. He started multiple affordable housing centers. He started multiple food pantries, including the Family Pantry in Harwich–just an inspiration,” he said.
Walkers travel from Provincetown to Orleans on the first two days of the walk. On Sunday, the walk finishes more than 100 miles later on Sunday with a celebration in Falmouth at Liam Maguire’s Pub.
Over the years since the walk started in 1993, it has raised more than $3.6 million.
People who support the non-profits that benefit from the walk and the cause of affordable housing in general can join the walk at any point.
Jenkins said people who join the walk usually pick a day in which a certain non-profit is sponsoring the walk. “Most people will just pick a day local to them to participate. For example, Homeless Prevention Council sponsors the walk from Provincetown to Orleans,” he said.
Jenkins said that while some of the non-profits that the walk supports help homeless people, those are not the only Cape Codders who need support.
“Not everyone who needs our help is actually homeless, but people all around us, they may be mowing our lawns or waiting tables or working at CVS, a lot of people really struggle to make ends meet. The average wages on the Cape are one-third lower than the average in the state. Housing is expensive,” Jenkins said.
The organizations that benefit from the walk are the Cape Cod Council of Churches Overnights of Hospitality Ministry; The Champ Homes–A Division of Housing for All Corporation; Chatham Ecumenical Council for the Homeless; Community Development Partnership; Falmouth Homeless Prevention Program at Housing Assistance Corporation; Friends of Prisoners–Guindon House; Harwich Ecumenical Council for the Homeless; Homeless Not Hopeless Inc; Housing Assistance Corporation; Homeless Prevention Council; St. Vincent de Paul Society.
To find out the walk schedule or to donate money to the causes supported by the walk, go to murrayhousingwalk.org.