(Host) About 1,100 Vermonters took part in the fourteenth annual “COTS Walk” in Burlington yesterday. The event raises funds and awareness for the Committee on Temporary Shelter, which assists homeless people.
COTS director Rita Markey says that — unlike other charity walk-a-thons — the event isn’t meant to give participants an aerobic workout:
(Markley) “It’s instead an awareness walk, and it’s the route that someone who is homeless in Chittenden County follows for food, shelter and services. So it’s basically, we open all of our programs. So they can see, the Day Station when people get help finding a job or housing. Or they can see the family shelter and look inside the space where 300 families had to stay last year when there was no place else to turn.”
(Host) The six stops on the COTS Walk looked at the various services the organization offers – from emergency shelters, to health care. Volunteer Keith Casper says the event changes the way he sees homelessness:
(Casper) “It makes me feel like they’re people, not a problem. And they need some help and is a great organization offering a ton of services for a community our size. So it makes me be part of the solution, or attempt to be part of the solution – a small part.”
(Host) Organizers estimate COTS raised $110,000. Director Rita Markley says that represents 40% of the organization’s budget for emergency shelter and services. About 2,000 people sought assistance from COTS last year.