Annual Fundraiser Expected To Be Largest Yet
The social justice movement in Minnesota will get its annual shot in the arm next month, as the Headwaters Walk for Justice takes to the streets for a day of fun and fundraising. In the last decade, the Walk has grown into the largest gathering of progressive organizations in the state. Last year, about 1,500 individuals representing 110 organizations collectively raised more than $212,000. But with registrations already exceeding the 2006 goal of 130 groups, this year’s Walk promises to be the largest yet.
Unlike many fundraising walks that steer pledges toward one organization or a single goal, each group that participates in the Headwaters event benefits from the money they raise. The event targets grassroots nonprofits and small community groups, but organizations of any size working for social justice are invited to participate.
“The walk provides a unique opportunity for the progressive community to come together to celebrate its work, to increase visibility and to raise money for critical issues in our community and state,” says Headwaters Executive Director Steve Newcom. “With the midterm elections this fall, it is particularly important that the grassroots community be visible, vocal and supported.”
St. Paul resident Larry Lubbers has been a dedicated walker/fundraiser for disability rights organization Advocating Change Together (ACT). “People with disabilities have it rough,” Lubbers says. “That’s why I do the Walk. It changed my attitude about people. It changed me into being a better person—to respect everybody. I see a lot of people in public who still make fun of me. That doesn’t happen at the Walk. The Walk helps me help everybody else who can’t help themselves.”
Through the Walk, ACT has raised $15,460 over ten years for programming and services. But this year the group has set a more ambitious fundraising goal—$5,000. Lubbers is historically among the group’s top fundraisers.
“If [Gov. Tim] Pawlenty is going to be in office another year, I need to raise more money,” Larry says. “We’ve got to change policies—a lot of them.”
Participating organizations span the social spectrum—in size, issue area and geographic region. Small organizations like the youth-focused Naming Project—which raised a tenth of its annual budget through the Walk last year—mingle with major groups such as NARAL and the Minnesota Environmental Fund. Groups working for children’s safety, decent public schools, access to health care, and immigrant rights in Minnesota walk alongside organizations dedicated to eradicating poverty globally.
“Sometimes people define ‘community’ as the state or the city or the country in which they live, but where do you put a boundary when people need help?” says Mary Steiner Whelan, director of Give Us Wings, a Minneapolis-based group that funds community-development, education and health projects in Africa. “The Walk for Justice strengthens our community by strengthening our common values.”
Those values are on display in a big way each September.
“I remember looking back and seeing all the walkers—all those groups, all those people standing together,” says Mary Beaudoin, executive director with Women Against Military Madness, which has participated in the Walk every year. “Seeing it visually and participating in it is a statement—and an inspiration. It’s nice to know other organizations are working on similar issues—justice—because we all need to work for that.”
This year’s Walk for Justice runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17. The three-mile route begins and ends at Boom Island Park in Northeast Minneapolis, but individuals who don’t feel they can complete the loop still can raise money for their organizations and participate by cheering their group on at the finish line.
To register your organization and begin raising money or to sign up as a volunteer, call 612-879-0602, ext. 19. To support a group, go to the Walk Web site — www.walkforjustice.org — and scroll through the organization list to make an online donation, or contact the organization directly.
The Headwaters Foundation for Justice has been supporting Minnesota-based grass-roots organizations through its grant-making and organization assistance programs since its founding in 1984. Go to www.headwatersfoundation.org to learn more.