WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Local Non-Profit Hosts 15th Annual John Bliven Memorial Walk/Run

Jun 21, 2015

Macomb's annual Heritage Days festival is right around the corner and will offer an opportunity to help those in need. The John Bliven Memorial Walk/Run is in its 15th year and is hosted by Samaritan Well, a local non-profit organization that provides shelter for men, women, and children in need.

Cynthia Stiffler, Executive Director of Samaritan Well Inc.
Credit Photo courtesy of Cynthia Stiffler

“Our walk/run is our major fundraiser, and last year we had about 150 runners. It’s become something of a tradition for Heritage Days,” said Cynthia Stiffler, Executive Director of Samaritan Well.

She added that fundraisers like this one allow Samaritan to continue its efforts to help homeless people from all over western Illinois.

Stiffler said homelessness is a serious issue in rural areas such as western Illinois.

“In our area here, especially in your listening area, it’s really difficult to find affordable housing. An individual needs to make about $14.00/hour in order to pay the current rent in the Macomb area,” Stiffler said.

Samaritan Well's women's shelter in Macomb.
Credit Photo courtesy of Samaritan Well Inc.

Finding a job that pays a livable wage in this area can be near impossible, Stiffler added. Most of her residents are only able to find part-time or temporary work, and in turn can’t afford housing. Samaritan has a men’s and a women’s shelter, both in Macomb, to assist residents when needed. The organization served more than 50 people last year and is currently housing 13.

Stiffler said charity work can be challenging at times.

“Right now we have a young woman who’s a resident who has some serious medical problems. I’ve been making phone calls and referrals and all sorts of things, and it’s hard sometimes to get the medical services that we need, simply because doctors don’t take new patients often times.” Stiffler said.

“Transportation is [also] a problem. The bus service that we have in our area is excellent, but if a resident is working third shift then the bus isn’t always going to be available.”

Stiffler said the little moments make it all worthwhile, though. “A church youth group donated some pillows to us one Christmas and this [resident] just hugged her pillow and said ‘Oh, it really is Christmas,’” she recalled.

Samaritan Well is still seeking volunteers to help with the John Bliven Memorial Walk/Run. Stiffler said whether someone chooses to walk, run, or volunteer, she hopes to see people out and supporting the cause.

Route for 2015 John Bliven Memorial Walk/Run
Credit Photo courtesy of Samaritan Well Inc.

John Bliven Memorial Walk/Run Details:

  • June 27, 2015
  • 6:45 a.m.: Registration at Old Dairy on South Lafayette St., Macomb
  • 7:30 a.m.: 1-mile run/walk for kids 12 and under
  • 7:45 a.m.: 2-mile and 4-mile run/walk
  • $20 to pre-register (more info at www.samaritanwellinc.org), $25 to register morning of race