Winter Walk to benefit the homeless braves the cold

Despite the winter chill, over 1,000 people gathered in Copley Square to walk two miles through the streets of the Boston to raise awareness and funds to help end homelessness.

“Fantastic turnout,” said Susan Dooley, member of the board of the Winter Walk. “I think we had almost double of pre-registers than last year.”

The Winter Walk was founded in 2016 by a group of homelessness advocates. This year the walk was presented in partnership with Boston Medical Center and Boston Medical Center HealthNet Plan.

The annual walk has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last two years to help support over 6,000 homeless people in Boston. The funds get donated to partners of the walk like Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Brookview House, Pine Street Inn, Y2Y, Common Cathedral, and Many Angels Needed Now and Always.

A team of old friends got together to get involved in the cause. Elaine Spitz and her team LaineyD and Friends were excited to get going.

“It’s nice to see so many people here,” said Spitz. “I’ve never walked it before or even been familiar with everything that’s going on. It’s seems like a really great cause. Some old friends who I haven’t seen in a while came and it was a really great way to get together and do something useful.”

Mayor Martin Walsh join his fellow members of the city council to walk the two miles.

“This event for me is really about raising awareness on homelessness,” Walsh said. “There are a lot of good effort going into homelessness now in our city in the last few years and this is just another aspect of getting people out gaining awareness of homelessness. We have to do everything we can to end homelessness in our city.”

Members of the board gave opening remarks alongside the mayor before the walk began. The MANNA singers walked together on stage to sing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” with unity and soul.

Ari Barbanell, Winter Walk’s Executive Director, wrapped up the opening remarks by thanking everyone who came out to support the cause. Teams, families, and a few dogs took the first steps and began their walk through the city streets in hopes of bringing people together and working to end homelessness.

“My message today is simple,” said Walsh. “We have changed in Boston the way we work with homeless people. We’ve housed 1,600 people over the last four years. We are not done, we have more work to do.”