A Step for the Homeless was a 5K/10K that took place Saturday, March 27, at Lake Miola and raised funds for My Father’s House, a homeless shelter in Paola.

Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by Paola High School journalism student Abby Richmond.

The homeless community can appear invisible to some, according to Rebecca Johnson, Paola High School KAY sponsor.

Homelessness comes in many forms, including “people who stay on the couch at one friend’s and then the next night they’re on the couch of another friend’s, that’s still homeless,” Johnson said.

Paola’s local homeless shelter, My Father’s House, fights this kind and all kinds of homelessness. “A Step for the Homeless,” a 5K/10K spearheaded by Paola High School, Paola Middle School and Sunflower Elementary clubs: including PHS KAY, PHS Student Council, PHS Journalism, PHS FCCLA, PHS FBLA, PMS Student Council, PMS KAY and the Sunflower Elementary running club, possessed the intention of raising money for My Father’s House.

The 5K/10K took place on Saturday, March 27, at Lake Miola, and the money raised from “A Step for the Homeless” will be quadrupled by H.U.D. (Housing and Urban Development).

Fletcher Aude, senior member of PHS FBLA, advocated for raising the money because it will be going toward a group of people in need, and the money will be in safe hands. Aude chose to get involved in this event with the hope of seeing a lot of people rally and raise money for a good cause, along with making good habits for the future.

“It also gets your name out there for people to recognize you [are] a good kid and that you give back. As you get older, you can continue doing that,” Aude said.

Aude emphasized the importance of young community members like himself taking a role in “A Step for The Homeless.”

“I think it’s important for every student in the clubs to have a role. I also feel like everyone has to do their own part,” Aude said.

Anna Mailand, junior member of PHS KAY, agreed with Aude on the importance of youth involvement in community service.

“If you don’t prioritize it at a young age, then when you get older you probably wouldn’t think about it as much either,” Mailand said.

Fundraisers like “A Step for the Homeless” require a lot of hands on deck, according to Mailand, and those hands are easier to find with clubs from all different age groups chipping in.

“With more clubs involved it allows more people to be told about the event so then more people can participate,” Mailand said.

The idea behind Johnson and Michelle Haley’s, PMS KAY sponsor, choice to join their clubs mimics Mailand’s statement above.

“We (Haley and Johnson) wanted to join our clubs together at some of our events to make it so these guys (high schoolers) are more of role models for these kids (elementary students),” Haley said.

Joining these clubs together means engaging all different people of different ages in the fight against the homelessness epidemic. According to Haley, it also means students making the choice to open their eyes to the state of the community.

“Anybody can be homeless at any time in their life. I think anytime we can get our students prepared for what could happen to them and to be [a]part of the community [is important],” Haley said.

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