Record turnout, donations at walk

Author: Amanda Gray

South Bend Tribune

February 18, 2013

SOUTH BEND -- Rev. Brian Grantz, dean of the Cathedral of St. James, began the St. Margaret's House Winter Walk with a benediction from Catherine of Siena:

"All the way to heaven is heaven," he said to the nearly 700 gathered at the County-City Building in downtown South Bend Sunday afternoon.

The benediction was fitting, because the goal of the walk is to put locals in the same journey that St. Margaret's House guests go through every day -- walking to the non-profit charity for help, according to Jo Broden, chairperson of the walk.

"As you walk, remember you'll change a woman's life, a family's life, a community, a state, a nation," Broden said to the crowd as they stepped out into the warm winter afternoon. Guests and local residents walked side-by-side through a one-mile loop, ending at a reception at St. Margaret's House.

St. Margaret's House Executive Director Kathryn Schneider said this is the 14th year for the walk, which started in 2000.

Schneider said a record-breaking 677 people walked this year. Development coordinator Tamara McGill credited the large turnout to great weather and great sponsors.

Schneider said the Winter Walk is the largest fundraiser for the organization, bringing in anywhere from $50,000 to $56,000 a year. With more than $56,000 raised as of late Sunday afternoon, she said this year's goal of $60,000 doesn't seem out of reach.

"The people of South Bend are really generous when it comes to donating to us," Schneider said. "I was almost afraid to say the goal out loud, but we're within distance."

Each year, the funds go to help keep St. Margaret's in operation. Schneider said there are 22,000 visits and 25,000 meals served annually.

New this year to the walk were cards given to every walker. The cards featured actual names from St. Margaret's House guests, as well as their story and a goal or prayer they have for themselves. Schneider asked walkers to remember these wishes, and to lift them up for the women who wrote them.

"Look at that card, because today you walk in her shoes," Schneider said to the walkers before the event. "And after, we invite you to write down your name, and your hope or prayer, and we will make cards for our guests so they can carry it and hold you up in prayer."

Guests carried banners for the organization as they walked. Pama Mezie, who has come to St. Margaret's for six years, said the support feels awesome.

"St. Margaret's means a whole lot to me," Mezie said before the walk. "They give so many opportunities for women in need."

Latisha Bonds has come to St. Margaret's for more than 13 years she said. From meals to showers, school supplies and computer use, St. Margaret's has supported her and her children, she said.

"This is my first Winter Walk," she said. "I'm very overwhelmed. If then didn't have St. Margaret's House, I don't know what I would do. I welcome more women to come and see what it's all about."

Kathleen Cummings, South Bend resident and Notre Dame professor, said she remembers pushing her daughter, Margaret, in a stroller at her first Winter Walk. Her daughter, now a teenager, joined her Sunday.

"I like the idea of walking and what it means to always have to use your feet," Cummings said Sunday. "With cars, we sometimes forget the convenience. You really have to walk."

Margaret said she likes participating because it serves as a reminder.

"We don't really thing about all the stuff we take for granted," she said. "This makes us think."

Local politicians also participated in Sunday's walk. Staff members from Mayor Pete Buttigieg's office and Sen. Joe Donnelly's office were present, along with St. Joseph County Commissioner Andy Kostielney and Rep. Jackie Walorski.

"I'm so grateful for what they do," Walorski said. "It's an honor to walk with you today."

Schneider said the organization will continue to take Winter Walk donations, which can be made online at or through mail at St. Margaret's House, 117 N. Lafayette Blvd., South Bend, Indiana, 46601.

Staff writer Amanda Gray:

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