Some locals are planning a march this month to bring awareness to the growing problem of homelessness in Fayetteville.
The march, called “Walk the Xtra Mile” will take place from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 in Fayetteville. The mark with depart from 7 Hills Homeless Center, located at 1832 S. School in Fayetteville, and will cover approximately two miles before finishing back at 7 Hills.
We got in touch with Quinn Childress, one of the organizers of the event, to learn more about the event, and what he hopes to accomplish with the march, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us.
Tell us a bit about the “Walk the Extra Mile” event. What will the march consist of, and are there any other activities planned around the event?
The march will consist of a march that will last two miles instead of one. Last year, the event was called ‘Walk A Mile In My Shoes’ and this event is called ‘Walk The Xtra Mile.’ Last year we walked a mile and this year we will be walking a couple. This project is under a bigger project called Community Project X (hence ‘XTRA mile). The mayor will present the proclamation of homeless awareness day on April 7th and we will present a game plan on how we are going to address the issue of ending homelessness in the city of Fayetteville. The march will also have barbeque and 5 minute massages.
Is it primarily for raising awareness, or will there also be a fundraising aspect of the event?
This event is primarily for raising awareness, so we can find individuals who are committed to ending the issue in the long run. We plan to have a yearlong community fundraiser after the march is over. The community fundraiser is the concept of challenging the community to take more initiative to help raise funds, as a community. Instead of an individual having to raise the funds on his/her own, the community can raise money with the individual towards one particular goal – ending homelessness. The money will be going towards the best solution of ending the root cause of homelessness.
Locals pledge to “Walk the Xtra Mile” to end homelessness April 7 in Fayetteville
You also hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless last year. What made you decide to get involved and engage with this particular issue??
The reason I’ve initiated the two marches is because of the Thanksgiving Dinner event. At the age of 15, I started my own lawn mowing business. For 5-6 years, I was caught in chasing the dollar bill and creating new opportunities for myself. However, one day I looked up from being selfish with my endeavors and I realized that I have the power to give back to others who are less fortunate. By doing this, I wanted to donate my entrepreneur skill sets towards social issues such as the increasing homelessness that has been occurring in the city of Fayetteville. Not only that, I noticed there is a lack of initiative with people in this country, so I wanted to equip individuals with the same skill sets that would appreciate it. Especially the individuals I know who desire to do something bigger than themselves. That being said, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I just wanted to share the feelings I felt with the homeless community who may not have positive feelings, on that specific day. Instead of approaching it as we are “serving” homeless people, we changed the concept to everyone serving themselves and it was beautiful. On that day, it changed my whole perspective because I felt like everyone was family and the concept of homelessness did not exist. There are many people who cannot conceive the idea of other people being family members outside their own family and that’s where the march comes in to fix this mentality by raising awareness.
This is the second March to bring awareness to homelessness in our area you’ve worked on. Tell us a bit about how the first one came about?
The first march came after the Thanksgiving Dinner. After raising 5K, there was a lot of self-belief on eradicating the issue because there were so many people willing to donate their time, money, and resources to put on a huge dinner for the less fortunate. However, what I also learned was people want to give back, but they just don’t know how or know where to start. People naturally want to help other individuals, but they just don’t know how, or they may feel too overwhelmed. So I wanted to initiate a march to raise awareness on the issue to create opportunities for everyone to give back by bringing our resources together to progressively address the issue.
What are some of the best ways in your mind to help the homeless in our community right now?
In order to seriously address the issue, instead of putting band-aid solutions towards poverty alleviation, we must take a look at the bigger picture. The real question, what is the root cause of the issue of homelessness? I incubated on the question for a long time. I figured out the root cause is our acceptance of the economic concept of capitalism. Reason being, the whole economic structure is set up for there to be winners and losers. As the years progress, there are only a select few winners holding the majority of the wealth in America and there are going to be more losers as years progress. Because of this, we will only see homelessness increase, despite the efforts of addressing the issue. At some point, because of this structure, there will be so many poor people, the laws will not apply to individuals who are poor when it comes to trying to feed their family and they will commit crimes in order to survive. This trend is apparent with research of the wealth gap in our nation. So what can we do about this?
The answer is to reverse engineer what we know as a society. The first thing we must accept is that everyone can be entrepreneurs. How society is currently structured is people being employees, which are dependent thinkers of people telling them what to do. This is due to our current education system. The other part of capitalism is breeding “selfish” mentality of taking from the fruits of trees instead of replenishing for our future generations. Currently, businesses sacrifice the suffering of others and degradation of the environment, in order to maximize their pockets.
How we can address the issue of homelessness is by introducing the new concept of a social capitalistic society. This concept introduces the idea that we can be selfless and be able to accomplish our ambitions endeavors by creating social businesses, with a society filled with entrepreneurs. Social businesses are businesses created to address social issues that are occurring in our community. Instead of creating companies to make profit, we are creating companies to end social issues such as poverty, unemployment, environmental carbon emissions, etc. By introducing this concept, we are business owners making as much as we need to live the life we wish, in congruent of building all winners. While we are developing winners in our society through creating social businesses, our society will develop the mentality of unification instead of “my company vs. yours.” The concept of competition will be eliminated as we will all be in root for each other’s success, as one social company is successful, the whole community is successful. With this concept, we are then able to take from the tree and to replenish simultaneously. If this concept is executed successfully, there would be no concept of “charity.”
That being said, I am working on innovative ways by introducing this concept into the community of Northwest Arkansas. More information will be shared in the future!
Anything else you’d like people to know about the event?
From all of the activity of working in the poverty alleviation sector, I’ve found that people who have successfully benefited from the capitalistic economic structure, will write off people experiencing homelessness as if they write off charitable donations for their taxes. These people believe that there are addicted to drugs, alcohol, etc. so they justify why they shouldn’t give back to such individuals. As some of these assumptions are true, what about the addictions that everyone has themselves? What about societies who aren’t experiencing homelessness addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, cell phone/social media, etc.?