BY MARY WICOFF
A walk next week will give people a chance to help homeless veterans and improve their own health at the same time.
The third annual 2K “walk and roll” event will start at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System. There is no advance registration or fee; however, donations for the homeless program will be accepted.
People are advised to park in the Danville Area Community College Bremer Center parking lot, and then walk across the street to the Freedom and Liberty houses, where the walk will start on a marked route.
Registration will be at 4 p.m. The walk, which is a little more than a mile, is expected to take about an hour, although people will walk at their own pace.
The “roll” part of the event refers to wheelchairs, strollers, etc.
“This is a family friendly event open to anyone and everyone,” said Jennifer Gerrib, coordinator of the Homeless Veteran Program at the VA. “2K is only 1.5 miles and there is no time limit, so come out and have some fun.”
The purpose of the walk is to promote employee wellness at the VA, but the community and veterans are invited to participate, as well.
The walk coincides with National Employee Health and Fitness Day. Other VA facilities across the country will participate, too, to promote wellness and benefit homeless veterans.
Emma Metcalf, director at the Illiana System, said, “Worksite wellness activities enhance employee engagement and contribute to a more productive and healthy work force.
“Last year, VA’s 2K here at VAIHCS was extremely successful and we intend to collect even more in-kind donations and involve more participants in support of wellness and homeless veterans.”
Erica Dubois, social worker with the HUD/VASH program, said about 190 people participated last year. Paper products and hygiene items were collected to help the homeless program.
This year, people may donate gift cards in any increments from Wal-Mart, County Market or other local stores or VISA or Master Card gift cards.
Dubois suggested 10 people could chip in on a $5 gift card, for example, or go as high as a $100 card.
However, making a donation is optional, and people are not required to do so in order to participate in the walk. People who want to help, but who can’t make the walk, may contact Gerrib.
The VA’s employee wellness program is known as WIN (Wellness is Now). WIN empowers employees with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to create a culture of health and wellness. Further, WIN encourages employees to use their appreciation of wellness to inspire veterans to live healthier lifestyles.
WIN integrates traditional occupational safety and health programs with health promotion activities, addressing both work place and worker health and helping VA employees to do their work of serving the nation’s veterans.
To donate to the Homeless Veteran Program at the Veterans Affairs Illiana Health Care System, contact coordinator Jennifer Gerrib at 554-5670. The national homeless hotline number is (877) 424-3838.
For more information on the Illiana Health Care System, go to http://www.danville.va.gov/