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Rec-PAC Gives Back Through Walks for the Homeless

Rec-PAC Summer Program

Rec-PAC Gives Back Through Walks for the HomelessThe Fairfax County Park Authority's Summer Rec-PAC program partnered with Wesley Housing Development Corporation to bring Fannie Mae Help the Homeless Mini-Walks to 13 Rec-PAC summer camp sites in July and August and raise more than $20,000 to help homeless families. The effort allowed even some of the neediest kids to support the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors 10-year plan to prevent and end homelessness here.

Over 625 campers were able to participate in the mini-walk program, which included age-appropriate educational pieces to help children learn about the problem of homelessness. First and second graders talked about what it means to be homeless, and they drew pictures of houses they would give to a homeless person. The older campers played a budgeting game that showed how the high cost of rent and other living expenses in the area could render a person homeless. Physical activities varied by day and site, but ranged from a medley of popular line dances in the gymnasium to an outdoor walk with a limbo line. Ultimately, the campers came away from each Mini-Walk event with a free t-shirt and an understanding of how important it is to have safe and affordable housing to prevent homelessness.

Rec-PAC is a six week structured summer program that serves more than 6,500 elementary-aged children in Fairfax County sponsored by the Fairfax County Park Authority. The walks tied into the "Rec-PAC Gives Back" theme of the camps, which emphasizes community service and involvement.

In addition to learning more about homelessness, Rec-PAC's participation helped raise $12,640 to support Wesley Housing and long-term solutions to homelessness. Registration fees were paid by sponsors plus an additional $10,000 incentive from Fannie Mae.

"Rec-PAC Gives Back" provides an opportunity for kids from all economic backgrounds and cultures to give back to their community," according to John Berlin, Program Branch Manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority. "While most service projects help meet immediate needs, such as the 1,700 pounds of canned food Rec-PAC kids donated to a local food pantry, the Mini-Walks allowed these kids to make an even bigger impact toward long-term solutions to end homelessness, all while having fun."

Wesley Housing Development Corporation is a leading nonprofit affordable housing developer that builds, preserves, and manages housing for low and moderate-income families, seniors, and persons with disabilities and provides housing for over 2,100 individuals in Northern Virginia.

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