GARY – Since 1997, Sojourner Truth House has been a staple in the community, serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness with a focus on recovery, advocacy and housing.
Sojourner Truth House is a ministry of hope and help for homeless and at-risk women and their children. Founded by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, STH offers services to an average of 1,700 clients monthly.
The day center for women and children experiencing poverty, with a community pantry and other related services, hosted its 23rd annual fundraising Walk for STH on June 11. Coordinators invited the community to join them in taking steps to end homelessness and hunger by collecting pledges.
Funds raised through the Walk for STH helps the nonprofit provide clients access to food, clothing, medical care, job skills programs, intensive case management and a commitment to independent living. The goal is to provide clients with the tools to achieve self-sustainability for themselves and their family.
Angie Curtis, executive director of STH, stated prior to the event, “Each year, people from all over Northwest Indiana come together to celebrate and support Sojourner Truth House. The 2021 Walk had nearly 300 registered individuals and 26 teams.” Curtis optimistically hoped to double that number when final registration figures came in.
The Walk for STH is one of the biggest fundraisers for Sojourner Truth House. In 2021, nearly $135,000 was raised. This year, as donations continued to be tallied just after the walk, a preliminary total on the website showed $83,500 collected.
As individuals arrived near Sojourner Truth House early on Saturday ready to walk, they were greeted by the friendly staff, lively music, assorted vendors, and a handful of speakers, including Mayor Jerome Prince, Indiana State Senator Eddie D. Melton and U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, who took to a stage to thank those in attendance for their support of STH.
Sister Shirley Bell of the Poor Handmaids of Christ was also among those invited to share a few words with the crowd.
“It’s exciting to be a part of this with you,” Sister Bell said. “We can’t thank you enough for all you do to keep Sojourner Truth House going and able to provide the services for women and children and some men, too – To create possibilities in new ways for women and their families.”
Ruby Grayson-Sprolen assists with the STH pantry that operates on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. When she mentioned to her family that she wanted to join this year’s walk, they didn’t hesitate to join her. “Whatever we raise goes to help the community of Gary,” she said. “It all goes to Gary to help out. That’s a good thing because there are so many women that are homeless, and there’s mental illness, and this walk helps us raise money for the entire year for those causes. It is so needed.”
The Grayson-Sprolen family was one of the first headed through an archway of colorful balloons that marked the starting line. Participants traveled north from STH while completing a square route which led them down Broadway Avenue before returning to the start.
“We love the walk,” said Pamela Key, director of client services. “It brings out the community on one day for a purpose. It’s like having one big party with a purpose in the park, brings a lot of awareness, and it's always a good vibe and a good atmosphere when we can get together and walk on behalf of what we believe in.”
Key started working at STH 14 years ago as a case manager. Growing up just a block away from the ministry, she visited the building several times during her youth and later as an adult. Beginning her employment there was a moment of “coming full circle” she explained.
“Everyone here has a heart for what they do, and it takes a heart for what we do because we hear a lot of stories and we see a lot of situations that are not good, but if we can see some good in our results, it feels better,” said Key.
Sojourner Truth House will officially mark its 25th anniversary year with a celebration on Sunday, Sept. 18 at Avalon Manor Banquet Center in Hobart. In addition to lunch, there will be a cork pull and spoken word by Jeremias Alicea, who has been in ministry for more than 20 years, serving children and youth and as an associate pastor. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit sojournertruthhouse.org/anniversary.
“I think being here 25 years is a testimony in itself that one there is a need and, two, we must be making an impact because we are still here. That says a lot,” Key said.