Editor’s Note: The greatest visual opportunities will take place at the start of the walk, at the downtown YMCA, and afterward at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, located across from Riverfront Park, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., in downtown Spokane.

SPOKANE, Wash. — They’re homeless, not hopeless. But they do need help. They are the more than 850 homeless single women in Spokane. In June 1999, an effort to provide support for Spokane’s homeless women led to the opening of the Downtown Women’s Shelter. In less than two years, the shelter has already served 600 homeless women and provided clean, warm beds 6,200 times.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, April 29, students of the Intercollegiate College of Nursing/Washington State University College of Nursing will sponsor a three-mile walkathon to raise funds for the shelter, now named Hope House and under a new partnership with Volunteers of America.

“Caring about Spokane’s homeless community is a prime example of what nursing is all about — offering help to those in need,” said Charles Hall, nursing student organizer for the walk.

The walk begins in front of the downtown YMCA and follows the Centennial Trail. Proceeds go directly to Hope House for support services. Afterward, walkers can dine at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, and the restaurant will donate a portion of its proceeds to the community cause.

Hope House offers safe housing and support services to homeless single women who may be struggling with chemical use, mental illness, domestic violence or other health-related issues. Emergency shelter every night and a residential program for women who are committed to moving out of homelessness are available. The shelter also serves as a link to such support services as mental health and substance abuse treatment, nutrition and health counseling, and permanent housing.

“Without the support provided by the shelter, these women may turn to prostitution, drugs, alcohol and even suicide when life seems hopeless,” said Diane Leigland, Hope House program director. “But with support, they can regain control of their lives. They can get into treatment, find work and find their own safe places to live.”

To register for the walk or make a financial pledge, visit the college’s Web site at www.nursing.wsu.edu.

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