Walk for Hope raises funds for Ruth’s Place

By Marcella Kester - For Times Leader
Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, walks by a Ruth’s Place sign Sunday afternoon prior to the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at signs of empowerment hung around on Public Square on Sunday afternoon during a Ruth’s Place fundraiser event. - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
A sign hanging above the registration tables Sunday afternoon. - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Jennifer Rogers, of Harvey’s Lake, and Carman Kahiu, of Drums, fill out registration forms to participate in the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Troop 33206 Senior Girl Scout Tessa Romani, 16, of Harding, draws a big thank you on the side walk where the Walk For Hope ended Sunday afternoon. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Rabbi Larry Kaplan starts off the Ruth’s Place fundraiser Sunday afternoon with a speech of gratitude. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Wilkes students Jessica Comstock, of Dunmore, Veronica Hernandez, of Scranton, and Mariam Hanna, of Lancaster, hold signs they made for the Walk for Hope fundraiser to benefit Ruth’s Place. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
A Walk for Hope participant holds the route map. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Volunteer of America volunteer Jessica Pardo, of Plains Township, paints the face of Wyatt Butcher, 6, of Wilkes-Barre. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Maria Wetzel, 14, of Factoryville, puts a Ruth’s Place shirt. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Rabbi Larry Kaplan starts off the Ruth’s Place fundraiser Sunday afternoon with a speech of gratitude. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
A sign hanging above the registration tables Sunday afternoon. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at signs of empowerment hung around on Public Square on Sunday afternoon during a Ruth’s Place fundraiser event. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
A Walk for Hope participant holds the route map. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader
Volunteer of America volunteer Jessica Pardo, of Plains Township, paints the face of Wyatt Butcher, 6, of Wilkes-Barre. - - Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE – Danique Decosta couldn’t help but get emotional as she read a speech from her phone.

The New York native was just one of hundreds of attendees in Public Square on Sunday for the 11th annual Ruth’s Place Walk for Hope.

Ruth’s Place is the only homeless shelter for women in the county and can hold up to 21 clients at a time, said shelter director Crystal Kotlowski. Program participants can live at the shelter for 30 days while they gather tools and resources, find a job or enroll in school and get an apartment.

The organization has helped more than 290 women in the past year, offering a combined 5,000 nights of lodging, she continued.

Decosta thanked the organization for giving her the tools necessary to get back on her feet and into her own apartment, as well as offering her compassion and strength when no one else could.

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Moosic, explained the importance of the Ruth’s Place to the area.

“That work that Ruth’s Place does in invaluable to the community,” he said. “Now more than ever we see the necessity in supporting and uplifting women of the only emergency shelter for women experiencing homelessness in Luzerne County.”

As participants prepared to walk through the downtown area, Kotlowski asked walkers to make a few pit stops along the way to simulate a day in the life of a homeless woman.

Stands were placed at various locations around the area where women of the shelter must visit on a weekly basis, such as Community Counseling or the St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen. As each stop was visited, walkers were able to check off a piece of their bingo sheets, with the first three winners earning up to $500 in cash.

Chelsea Townes was all too familiar with many of the stops.

As she handed out food to patrons, Townes explained how she got her life back on track after leaving Ruth’s Place in July. The Baltimore native said she found herself homeless in Wilkes-Barre after leaving the jobs corps, and heard about Ruth’s Place from a friend.

Townes stayed at the shelter for 30 days, lauding it’s clean and positive environment, caring staff and bountiful resources to help women. Now, the Wilkes-Barre resident has her own apartment and job, and is leaving the area in January to go to college.

“But you’ve got to be willing to help yourself. If you don’t help yourself, you’re just going to be in there for 30 days and (it’s going to be a revolving door),” she said. “If you’re a homeless woman and you’re serious about getting on your feet and you need help, definitely go to Ruth’s Place.”

Kotlowski said she hopes to see more shelters for homeless women show up in the area, adding that shelters such as Ruth’s Place have been acting as a safe haven for women for years.

“Ruth’s Place is more than a shelter. More than a bed. More than a warm plate of food. Ruth’s Place is a helping hand on that journey. A friendly face when they struggle to find that light for themselves,” she said.

All proceeds from the event go back to the women using the shelter, adding that the nonprofit is always welcoming donations and volunteers. Items such as body wash and conditioner are always in need, she added, as well as gifts for the upcoming holiday season.

The Times Leader Media Group was a sponsor of the event.

For more information or to get involved, visit Ruth’s Place on Facebook.

Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, walks by a Ruth’s Place sign Sunday afternoon prior to the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-5-1.jpgAddalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, walks by a Ruth’s Place sign Sunday afternoon prior to the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at signs of empowerment hung around on Public Square on Sunday afternoon during a Ruth’s Place fundraiser event.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-4-1.jpgAddalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at signs of empowerment hung around on Public Square on Sunday afternoon during a Ruth’s Place fundraiser event. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

A sign hanging above the registration tables Sunday afternoon.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-3-1.jpgA sign hanging above the registration tables Sunday afternoon. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Jennifer Rogers, of Harvey’s Lake, and Carman Kahiu, of Drums, fill out registration forms to participate in the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-10-1.jpgJennifer Rogers, of Harvey’s Lake, and Carman Kahiu, of Drums, fill out registration forms to participate in the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Troop 33206 Senior Girl Scout Tessa Romani, 16, of Harding, draws a big thank you on the side walk where the Walk For Hope ended Sunday afternoon.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-9-1.jpgTroop 33206 Senior Girl Scout Tessa Romani, 16, of Harding, draws a big thank you on the side walk where the Walk For Hope ended Sunday afternoon. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Rabbi Larry Kaplan starts off the Ruth’s Place fundraiser Sunday afternoon with a speech of gratitude.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-1-1.jpgRabbi Larry Kaplan starts off the Ruth’s Place fundraiser Sunday afternoon with a speech of gratitude. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Wilkes students Jessica Comstock, of Dunmore, Veronica Hernandez, of Scranton, and Mariam Hanna, of Lancaster, hold signs they made for the Walk for Hope fundraiser to benefit Ruth’s Place.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-2.jpgWilkes students Jessica Comstock, of Dunmore, Veronica Hernandez, of Scranton, and Mariam Hanna, of Lancaster, hold signs they made for the Walk for Hope fundraiser to benefit Ruth’s Place. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

A Walk for Hope participant holds the route map.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-6.jpgA Walk for Hope participant holds the route map. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Volunteer of America volunteer Jessica Pardo, of Plains Township, paints the face of Wyatt Butcher, 6, of Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-8.jpgVolunteer of America volunteer Jessica Pardo, of Plains Township, paints the face of Wyatt Butcher, 6, of Wilkes-Barre. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Maria Wetzel, 14, of Factoryville, puts a Ruth’s Place shirt.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-7.jpgMaria Wetzel, 14, of Factoryville, puts a Ruth’s Place shirt. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Rabbi Larry Kaplan starts off the Ruth’s Place fundraiser Sunday afternoon with a speech of gratitude.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-1CMYK.jpgRabbi Larry Kaplan starts off the Ruth’s Place fundraiser Sunday afternoon with a speech of gratitude. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

A sign hanging above the registration tables Sunday afternoon.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-3CMYK.jpgA sign hanging above the registration tables Sunday afternoon. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at signs of empowerment hung around on Public Square on Sunday afternoon during a Ruth’s Place fundraiser event.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-4CMYK.jpgAddalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, looks at signs of empowerment hung around on Public Square on Sunday afternoon during a Ruth’s Place fundraiser event. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

A Walk for Hope participant holds the route map.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-6CMYK.jpgA Walk for Hope participant holds the route map. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Volunteer of America volunteer Jessica Pardo, of Plains Township, paints the face of Wyatt Butcher, 6, of Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-8CMYK.jpgVolunteer of America volunteer Jessica Pardo, of Plains Township, paints the face of Wyatt Butcher, 6, of Wilkes-Barre. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Troop 33206 Senior Girl Scout Tessa Romani, 16, of Harding, draws a big thank you on the side walk where the Walk For Hope ended Sunday afternoon.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-9CMYK.jpgTroop 33206 Senior Girl Scout Tessa Romani, 16, of Harding, draws a big thank you on the side walk where the Walk For Hope ended Sunday afternoon. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Jennifer Rogers, of Harvey’s Lake, and Carman Kahiu, of Drums, fill out registration forms to participate in the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-10CMYK.jpgJennifer Rogers, of Harvey’s Lake, and Carman Kahiu, of Drums, fill out registration forms to participate in the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre on Sunday. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Wilkes students Jessica Comstock, of Dunmore, Veronica Hernandez, of Scranton, and Mariam Hanna, of Lancaster, hold signs they made for the Walk for Hope fundraiser to benefit Ruth’s Place.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-2CMYK.jpgWilkes students Jessica Comstock, of Dunmore, Veronica Hernandez, of Scranton, and Mariam Hanna, of Lancaster, hold signs they made for the Walk for Hope fundraiser to benefit Ruth’s Place. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Addalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, walks by a Ruth’s Place sign Sunday afternoon prior to the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-5CMYK.jpgAddalyn Mark, 1, of Wilkes-Barre, walks by a Ruth’s Place sign Sunday afternoon prior to the Walk for Hope on Public Square in Wilkes-Barre. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

Maria Wetzel, 14, of Factoryville, puts a Ruth’s Place shirt.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_ttl100118walkforhope-7CMYK.jpgMaria Wetzel, 14, of Factoryville, puts a Ruth’s Place shirt. Amanda Hrycyna | For Times Leader

By Marcella Kester

For Times Leader

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.