ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — More than 300 runners took to the streets of Roanoke on Saturday to ‘Hustle for the Homeless’ in the fifth annual 5K race.
The event was hosted by The Least of These Ministry, a non-profit that raises awareness about the issue of homelessness.
Just a year ago, Joshua Haley, now a member of The Least of These Ministry, was homeless and had just gotten out of jail.
“While I was incarcerated, they stopped my check, my Social Security check, and they stopped my military check,” said Haley.
This left Haley roaming the streets of Roanoke, going from shelter to shelter while searching for a stable home.
He came in contact with Dawn Sandoval, the founder of The Least of These Ministry, who helped him get some basic necessities and even a place to live.
“Trust has been lacking in my relationships with people for a long time,” Haley said. “I guess it has to do with me being incarcerated…She broke down that barrier for me.”
The race on Saturday, May 21 comes at a pivotal time in Roanoke as homelessness continues to be an issue. It also wasn’t that long ago when the homeless ordinance banning people from sleeping downtown pushed many outside the city.
“They’re much more vulnerable because they aren’t in the downtown area. They’re in the woods and places where they can be victims of crimes and things of that nature,” said Sandoval.
Because of this, Sandoval hopes events like the ‘Hustle for the Homeless 5K’ will help in the fight to end homelessness in Roanoke.
According to Haley, people shouldn’t judge those who end up in these circumstances.
“Everybody is just a paycheck away…I try my best not to judge people and to give people the benefit of the doubt,” Haley said.
The top three men and women received medals for their performance. The funds raised help to continue efforts that provide resources for those who are less fortunate, such as showers, laundry, and housing assistance.