Sue Perkins of Homewood has seen the faces of those in need. That’s why her work as a volunteer at Respond Now is so important to her.
“Whatever we do, it makes a difference,” she said.
She and hundreds of others will come together on Saturday, Sept. 12, for the 4th annual Respond Now 5K Run/Walk for Hunger starting at 9 a.m. at Bicentennial Park, Achilles Avenue and 203rd Street in Olympia Fields. Participants will run or walk a USA Track & Field certified course.
Participants can register and donations are being accepted at www.respondnow.org
The registration fee is $20 through Sept. 7, and $25 on-site on race day. Individuals can also donate by sponsoring runners/walkers, or by dropping off canned goods for the Respond Now food pantry.
The 5K Run/Walk donations will help the social service agency fight hunger.
Respond Now serves 22 south suburban communities. It distributes approximately 18,000 bags of food a year.
Respond Now also helps those with immediate housing needs, and assists with utility and prescription drugs costs. It just completed a school supplies drive to help get needy kids ready for the new school year. Volunteers also provide transportation to services.
Perkins’ husband, Fred, was the first Respond Now volunteer of the family. Sue had collected mittens and hats for kids at Christmas but she never gave much thought to volunteering with the agency until she went with Fred to the Respond Now offices in Chicago Heights.
“He showed me around, and when we got to the donated clothes room I was appalled,” she remembers. “Everything was just in piles, and I knew something needed to be done.”
That was three years ago. Today Perkins is in charge of the Clothes and Household Items section of Respond Now, and recently was named president of the agency’s board of directors.
She tells the story of a young man who came in asking for clothing. She jokingly said she’d help him but hoped when she returned he’d have his pants pulled up.
“He told me I sounded like his mother. I told him that’s probably because I am a mother,” Perkins recalled. “He returned a few weeks later in need of pants. We gave him pants and a sports coat. He came back several weeks later to tell me he’d gotten a job. I won’t ever forget him.
“This helping agency is 45 years old, and its focus has always been on giving immediate assistance to people at risk,” Perkins said. “I think across the years there have been hundreds of times Respond Now has made a difference. We are there to help and we do help.”