What do you do on New Year’s Day? While many people are comfortably at home watching parades and football, some 700-to-800 Baltimore residents turn out for the Resolution Run, an annual benefit for UCC-related Earl’s Place, part of United Ministries, Inc.
The run has been a fixture in Baltimore since 2006 and has raised more than $150,000 to help the CHHSM ministry provide safe housing opportunities for men rebuilding their lives.
“The funds from the race have provided more than 8,376 days of housing and hope to men experiencing homelessness,” says Sheila Helgerson, executive director of United Ministries. “It costs about $18 to house one man for a day, so the funds raised make a real difference.”
The event grew out of a fall run held in 2003 and 2004 called “Home Again! Home Again! Jiggity Jog,” the brainchild of former board member Robert Olsen and his partner, the Rev. Bruce Swanson, who are avid runners. After those two events, “we realized there were not many events in January and decided to move the event to New Year’s Day,” Helgerson says.
The Resolution Run takes place in the city’s Patterson Park, and includes a 5K run or walk, a 1-mile walk, and a fun-run for children eight and under. People of all abilities are welcome.
“While the course is rather hilly, we have had people with disabilities participate,” says Helgerson. “In fact, a couple of years ago, one of our residents, Nate, was recovering from a stroke. While he could not walk the entire mile, one of our volunteers pushed his wheelchair, and Nate walked through the finish line!”
Following the run, everyone gathers at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church — across from the park — for an after party of awards, chili, and cornbread. Like the run itself, volunteers and residents are an integral part of the party’s success.
“Our house manager, Renard — who is also a former resident — is a SERV Safe certified cook [a certification program of the National Restaurant Association], and he prepares the chili and cornbread,” Helgerson says. “Current and former residents help with serving during the after party. In addition, volunteers provide homemade cookies, and their time and talent to volunteer with registration and on the course.”
Several area local UCC congregations volunteer and participate. Each year, one award goes to the UCC congregation with the largest team of participants. “Immanuel UCC in Catonsville, Md., was the first winner; recently, St. John’s Grace UCC and First and St. Stephen’s UCC [both in Baltimore] have been the top groups,” Helgerson adds.