In the fall of 1988, mortgage giant Fannie Mae held its first Help the Homeless walk in the District’s Rock Creek Park. Concerned employees turned out to raise funds for local homeless programs.

And the Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Walkathon evolved into an annual rite of autumn. At its peak, it drew large crowds of spirited marchers to the National Mall. The event was credited with raising public awareness about homelessness, and over $90 million for local shelters and other homeless programs.

The era of the big march on the Mall came to an end in 2012, after Fannie Mae was placed in government receivership, as a result of the nation’s real estate crisis.

Since then, Fannie Mae has shifted its focus to helping organize much smaller, community-based walks in cities around the country.

So far this fall, in the Washington area, nearly two dozen events have occurred, and over 100 more are planned – all of which will be hosted by local organizations.

Jaime Andrews Fitness hosted a 5K run on the morning of September 29 near Logan Circle, with proceeds benefiting N Street Village,a Northwest Washington program that helps women rebuild their lives. Andrews, whose fitness studio is also located on N Street, regularly partners with N Street Village, and volunteers her time
by offering a workout class called “Fit and Fabulous” to women receiving services at the program. While Andrews and other friends of N Street Village were staging their fundraising walk, another Help the Homeless event was taking place nearby.

Following 10 a.m. Mass on September 29, Reverend Lane Davenport of Church of the Ascension and Saint Agnes invited his congregation on a short walk to benefit the Downtown Cluster of Congregations. Participants briefly circled the 1200 block of Massachusetts Ave NW, holding a vibrant purple sign which stated “Walk for the Homeless.”

Community Family Life Services also hosted a mini-walk at Lincoln Park in Capitol Hill on October 5th at 10 a.m. Approximately 35 participants met near the statue of Abraham Lincoln, and made a short loop around the park . Participants also brought boots, blankets, and coats to be donated to clients of CFLS.

Though a majority of the Help the Homeless events are walks, there are a few unique offerings. Saint Mark’s in Capitol Hill will be hosting a bake-off to benefit the Samaritan Ministry on October 19th. Also, the Georgetown Community Center will be hosting a 5K run on October 20th.

Events will run through the first week of November. To find one near you, visit: www.hthwalks.org.