Mayor’s Message: 15th Annual IHOC Mall Walk

After raising $42,000 last year, the annual event is aiming for $50,000 this year

The Interfaith Homeless Outreach Council (IHOC) will have their 15th Annual Mall Walk both in person and virtually in the Voorhees Town Center on Sunday, Feb. 28. The event begins at noon and is a major fundraiser for the IHOC and its efforts to aid the Camden County homeless population. Last year, the event raised $42,000 and this year the goal is to raise $50,000. 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. There will be socially distant walking with masks at the Voorhees Town Center and there will be virtual walking at a location of your choice. You can register at the IHOC website, interfaithhomelessoutreachcouncilsj.org.

If you are part of a team that wants to walk at the Town Center, your team may have unlimited members. However, your team will be divided into groups with a maximum of 10 participants. Everyone walking must wear a mask and your team will be given a specific start time to ensure social distancing. The walk is always scheduled for February because it is the middle of winter 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 people during the last 21 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. For more information visit, interfaithhomelessoutreachcouncilsj.org.

Please consider supporting this wonderful cause.

** On-line registration for the 2021-2022 Voorhees Township Public School kindergarten full day program will open on March 1. Any child who will turn 5 on or before Oct. 1, 2021 is eligible for kindergarten admission in Sept. 2021. Beginning March 1, pre-registration can be completed at genesis.voorhees.k12.nj.us/genesis/openReg. After the pre-registration is completed, a staff member will contact for you for additional information.