Mayor’s Message: IHOC Mall Walk

The Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council (IHOC) is holding its 14th Annual Mall Walk in the Voorhees Town Center on Sunday, Feb. 23

The Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council (IHOC) is holding its 14th Annual Mall Walk in the Voorhees Town Center on Sunday, Feb. 23. The event begins at 1:30 p.m. and is a major fundraiser for the IHOC and its efforts to aid the Camden County homeless population. All are invited.

The IHOC began as an informal coalition of eight local congregations in 1989. They met to review the lack of facilities and programs for the homeless in Camden County. Today, the IHOC is comprised of over 40 congregations from many faiths and cultures.

The Mall Walk is one of the major fundraisers for this group and over the years has been enjoyed by thousands of friends, sponsors and supporters. The event is a full afternoon of activities, including face painting, magicians, balloon artists, stilt walkers, tattoo artists, clowns, tee shirts and goodie bags. The walk is always scheduled for February because it is the middle of winter and that is when more people are homeless and in the cold.

IHOC has provided shelter, meals, conversation, counseling, job placement and mentoring to more than 800 homeless men during the last 20 years. The IHOC flagship program annually takes in 12 homeless people and places them each for two weeks at a time with different congregations which provide meals, a warm secure place to sleep and fellowship.

During the first 10 weeks, they gain valuable lessons by attending life skill classes on money management, job seeking and developing interpersonal relations, while also working at nonprofit organizations. Following the training, they begin an intensive job search. Once they obtain a job, the participants must deposit 80 percent of their salaries into an IHOC managed account to be held for them until they secure permanent housing.

Throughout the entire program, they participate in intensive drug and alcohol counseling and are expected to attend a minimum of two Narcotics Anonymous and/or Alcoholics Anonymous meetings per week. In addition to these programs, the congregations also make a strong effort to engage the participants during their spare time to keep them active with various activities.

The program is run completely by volunteers and lasts from October through May. Many of the participants become self-sufficient following the program.

In addition, the IHOC has supplied thousands of homeless men, women and children with school supplies and personal care items as part of the Adopt-A-Box and Pack-A-Snack campaigns. The IHOC philosophy is simply “quality over quantity.”

The Voorhees Township Committee and I are proud to support the mission of the Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council. Please consider supporting this wonderful cause.

** Kindergarten registration for the 2020-2021 school year will take place at each neighborhood elementary school on the following dates: Wednesday, March 4 for last names beginning with the letters A-L, Wednesday, March 18 for last names beginning with the letters M-Z and Wednesday, March 25 for make-up registrations. Each registration will run from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Contact the local school with any questions.

** The Voorhees Arts Council is offering a miniature paint party on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. Learn how to carefully create 2 miniature paintings with great detail. The Art Party is at the Voorhees Art Center located in the Voorhees Town Center Mall behind the Food Court. The cost is$20 and BYOB. For more information and to reserve your spot, contact Marianne at marianne@marianneleone.com.