Sojourner Truth House Annual Color Walk fundraises for homeless and showcases local entrepreneurs

Sojourner Truth House Annual Color Walk fundraises for homeless and showcases local entrepreneurs

A sunny, 90 degree day in Gary didn’t stop the community from coming out to support Sojourner Truth House’s 22nd Annual Color Walk on June 12. 

Sojourner Truth House (STH) is a not-for-profit organization located in Gary, Indiana, and is sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. STH serves homeless and at-risk women, their children, and underserved members of the community. The Color Walk is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year.

Sojourner Truth House Color Walk 2021

Sojourner Truth House Color Walk 2021 98 Photos
Sojourner Truth House Color Walk 2021Sojourner Truth House Color Walk 2021Sojourner Truth House Color Walk 2021Sojourner Truth House Color Walk 2021

Pamela Key, Director of Client Services at STH, was excited to have such a great turn out both virtually and on-site after a tough year. Key was ecstatic to be able to surpass the organization’s goal of $115,000, but expressed even more excitement at the opportunity for outreach.

“We want to get the information out there about the need for our communities when it comes to homeless men, women, and children. There’s the need for our food pantries throughout the community. There’s the need for our community to come together,” said Key. “We want to make sure that people know we are here and available. We need support.”

Angela Curtis, who is scheduled to take over as Executive Director of STH on July 1, agrees with Key. Supporting, representing, and building the community is a priority at STH. Next year, Curtis will replace Sister Peg Spindler, long-time Executive Director of STH.

“We are going to miss Sister Peg, but we are going to continue her mission,” said Curtis.

“I am really happy that the staff, Sister Peg, and the groups that come out can see the success of STH and see how we can connect with the homeless and get them off the street,” said Sister Loretta Schleper, Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Justice Coordinator.

Members of STH are particularly proud of their entrepreneurial program that teaches clients how to become business owners in Gary.

Diana Sandlin of Urban Terrain Consulting: Workforce Development and Training is the program educator.

“I train these women on how to start a business in Gary,” Sandlin said. “They went through 16 weeks of classroom instruction. So, today, we are showcasing what they’ve learned. This is their first day of operation.”

Sandlin beamed when given the opportunity to show off her students. She remarked on just how impactful the program can be for STH clients.

“Now you can see these women and their dreams come to fruition,” said Sandlin. “It doesn’t matter what challenges or barriers you have in your life, you can still do it if you put your mind to it.”

Special Programs Associate for STH and the Budding Entrepreneurs, Carmen Rodriguez, coordinates the program along side Sandlin.

“I coordinate the entrepreneurs by helping to get their business plans, licenses, and marketing prepared,” Rodriguez said. “I am really proud of the entrepreneurs. They’re amazing people who work really hard and persevere.”

After the 1.5 mile walk, participants were able to frequent the tables of the many entrepreneurs present at the event. The entrepreneurs were excited to finally share their businesses with the community.

Phelice Jackson, owner of Roaming Harvests, was excited to share her business with customers.

“STH is an excellent place to get hooked up with,” she said. 

Paula Armes, owner of Thrifty Cabrinni一 a thrift shop that will one day help sex traffickers一 discussed the impact of STH on her own life.

“Six years ago, I needed to be encouraged that one day I would make it. I didn’t have a place to live and these people encouraged me. I have my own place, my own furniture. They helped me out and told me that I would make it. They’re wonderful people,” said Armes.

When looking toward the future, Armes hopes to pay forward the charity that STH has given her.

“I really hope that I can inspire somebody to do good for others,” said Armes.

Mary Burrage, owner of It’s Accurate LLC., offers all business, bookkeeping, and tax preparation services for individuals. She prides herself on giving an income eligible discount for those with small returns and helping the general public keep their hard earned money.

“I was a client here two years ago,” said Burrage. “When they started the entrepreneur program, I was excited to join.”

Burrage knows what it is like to be in need, so she loves to give back in her own way through her business. She promotes STH and tells people to not be afraid of asking for assistance.

“To the people who may be weary of asking for help, there is no harm especially if you need it,” said Burrage.

“This program saved my life,” said Kathleen Netherton, CEO of Clio’z Hip Hop Shop, which features custom wood burns, icon drawings, and murals. “Thank you guys for always believing in me. Thank you to Sojourner Truth's for giving me all the love in this world. I was alone before I met them, and they gave me the opportunity to be the best I can be.”

Ronnica Taylor of Nica’s Homemade Catering was serving up samples of healthy, homemade chicken and macaroni and cheese and discussing her experience with STH.

“This is a really good program that enhances your knowledge. You can learn a lot. It is good for beginners or those who have already started their business,” she said.

Nicole Cannon and William Campbell Jr. of Fantasticks Flamin BBQ had a line across the parking lot of people anxious to be served. They were grateful for the opportunity of being featured entrepreneurs at the Color Walk and recommend the entrepreneurial program for anyone interested. 

“If anybody is looking to get into the entrepreneur program, they should do it. It helps open up the right doors,” Campbell said.  “I recommend it to anybody trying to start their own business around here.”

Between serving plates and taking orders, Cannon was able to discuss the benefits of STH’s entrepreneurial program to her and her family. 

“It helps you get off your feet and actually helps you grow,” said Cannon. “At first, I didn’t take it very seriously until I felt that this was going to benefit me and my family for the rest of my life. This is something we always wanted to do, and we are going to build our empire off this. I give all my respect to STH, and we really appreciate them.”

At the end of a hard day’s work for the community, Key leaves us with one final thought that she wears proudly on her shirt throughout the event: love not labels.

“I want to put emphasis on the stigma that comes with homelessness. A lot of times people picture homeless people who live under a bridge, and that isn’t always necessarily the case. It could be someone who lost their job. Someone who lost their means of support. People who have relocated and didn’t have guaranteed space. I wore a shirt today that says ‘love not labels.’ Homelessness is the situation, not the individual.”

To hear more about the happenings with Sojourner Truth House, check out for more information.