Homeless Horizons Bike Tour Recap

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If you followed the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour, you know that BHA Director of Development Chris Fitz pedaled 260 miles around a seven county area over eight days (May 1 to May 8, 2011). He did so to raise awareness about the plight of homeless individuals. In doing so he highlighted the excellent work being done by non-profits, churches, government agencies, community organizations, and caring individuals offering a helping hands to persons faced with homelessness.

Chris’ ride did not go unnoticed, as numerous local news organizations turned a spotlight on his efforts. Below is a recap of Chris’ blog entries during and after his experience (and a few from me as I was with Chris the first two days of the ride), and the attention paid by area media.

HOMELESS HORIZONS BIKE TOUR BLOG DIRECTORY

May 18: Be a Hero with Me! Homeless Horizons Bike Tour Afterward

Snippet: “…I hope I am a hero, because a hero is someone who champions a greater good. Without that purpose, I would be just an ego. The more miles that passed on the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour, the clearer I became. Homelessness is a largely invisible phenomenon. The folks who stand out as “homeless” on the streets – often older adults with mental health issues – are a small percentage of those who live among us without a home…” – Chris Fitz

Chris Fitz celebrates the end of the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour as he rode back into Harrisburg on May 8, 2011 with Scott Wise, who joined Chris for the final leg of the tour from Mechanicsburg

 

May 9: Day 7, County 7: the Homeless Horizons Peak Experience

Snippet: “…New Bloomfield is a tiny town compared to any i’d stopped at prior. Perry County’s seat, the village has fewer than 1100 people according to the last census. But the county’s Housing Partnership with the United Way and many volunteers is making it home for five more homeless veterans, renovating a building just off the town square. The Veterans Housing Project allows vets, most of whom hail from Perry County, to a have a home close to home while also near important services…” – Chris Fitz

Chris Fitz crossed the Waggoners Gap peak in Perry County on Day 7

Chris Fitz crossed the Waggoners Gap peak in Perry County on Day 7

 

May 6: Homeless Horizons Day Six: A First Friday in Carlisle

Snippet: “…Stability. Some of us have more of it than others. But we can all share it. If these youth can do that, surely more of us can too. On this first Friday, another first night in another new space, I could use some of that stability. I am just grateful that my homeless horizon is near, that I’ll soon be sleeping again in a familiar bed with a familiar family around me. May we all be grateful for those simple shards of stability we do have… and like every “First Friday”, share them with joy!” – Chris Fitz

 

Our homeless encampment on Day 6 in Carlisle, which really took off when Carlisle First Church of the Brethren brethren/sistren arrived with free fresh food!

Our homeless encampment on Day 6 in Carlisle, which really took off when Carlisle First Church of the Brethren brethren/sistren arrived with free fresh food!

 

May 4: Homeless Horizons Day Four: Getting to Know York

Snippet: “Great evening discussion at the York Friends Meeting today preceded by a full overview of York’s situation with three insiders. Look out for that in the Daily Record!” – Chris Fitz

Chris Fitz with George Barnock (York County Planning Commission), Pastor Skip Spangler (Otterbein United Methodist), and Missy Gosnell (Community Progress Council) on Day Four In York

Chris Fitz with George Barnock (York County Planning Commission), Pastor Skip Spangler (Otterbein United Methodist), and Missy Gosnell (Community Progress Council) on Day Four In York

 

May 3: Homeless Horizons Day Three: Ephrata Gets Creative

Snippet: “…The sun was unexpectedly shining on our beautiful ride to Ephrata from Lebanon as I was joined by Matt Hershey, a pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and an old camp pal. On the back of my trailer is a sign that says “HONK if you help the homeless” and every day we’ve had a bunch of honkin’ support, especially in the towns…” – Chris Fitz

Chris Fitz and Matt Hershey survey a low-income housing construction project in Ephrata

Chris Fitz and Matt Hershey survey a low-income housing construction project in Ephrata

 

May 2: Homeless Horizons Day Two: Lebanon, Here We Come

Snippet: “…In Lebanon, a press event was held to raise awareness about the local homeless coalition’s efforts to start a family shelter in the city. May God richly bless their efforts! I headed home this evening due to other commitments, but Chris heads on to Ephrata by bicycle tomorrow…” – Steve Schwartz

Chris Fitz with Lebanon city and county leaders. They gathered to discuss efforts to open a family shelter in Lebanon.

Chris Fitz with Lebanon city and county leaders. They gathered to discuss efforts to open a family shelter in Lebanon.

 

May 1: Homeless Horizons Day One: And Away We Go

Snippet: “…Heather Kelly and I joined Chris Fitz on the inaugural leg, from our block party in Harrisburg to Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren. After riding in the rain, the lovely soup dinner from the McDonough’s was wonderful, followed by a Taize worship service with a small group from the church…” – Steve Schwartz

From Left: Steve Schwartz, Christopher Fitz and Heather Kelly prepare to set off on the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour at the conclusion of the 20/20 Vision Campaign Kickoff Block Party... in the chilly rain!

From Left: Steve Schwartz, Christopher Fitz and Heather Kelly prepare to set off on the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour at the conclusion of the 20/20 Vision Campaign Kickoff Block Party… in the chilly rain!

 

April 10: Eight Days, Six Counties…One Incredible Journey(Pre-Tour Overview with Schedule)

Snippet: “…Follow Christopher Fitz, Director of Development, as he spends a week homeless: touring Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, York, Adams and Cumberland Counties via bicycle highlighting the plight of the homeless!”

 

ROUNDUP OF LOCAL MEDIA ATTENTION

May 17: Your Hero: Local man biking to raise awareness for homelessness (Fox 43 News…WITH VIDEO)

Snippet: “…From May 1st through May 8th, Christopher Fitz covered more than 200-miles through the countryside, the city and the suburbs in between. From his brightly colored clothing to a handmade sign on the back of his bike, Fitz was hoping drivers passing by would see him and support his cause. ‘I have a sign that says “Honk If You Help the Homeless,” and I got the most honks in York & Adams Counties, between York and Gettysburg,’ says Fitz…”

 

May 6: Highlighting homelessness by trekking across the state: Brethren Housing Association bike tour stops in York to address issue (Hanover Evening Sun)

Snippet: “…Christopher Fitz camped out at York Friends Meeting House Wednesday night and the night before that he was in a Lancaster homeless shelter. He doesn’t know where he’ll be sleeping tonight, but he’s sure it won’t be in a warm bed…”

Chris Fitz sets up his camp for the evening (Photo: Brett Berwager)

Chris Fitz sets up his camp for the evening
(Photo: Brett Berwager)

 

May 2: Coalition eyes family shelter in Lebanon County: The Homeless Horizons Bike Tour peddled awareness of homelessness in Lebanon County this week (Lebanon Daily News)

Snippet: “…Kathy Bechtel’s downward spiral began after the death of her parents in 1998. The Lebanon woman found herself homeless. And because of a leg injury she still suffers from today, the last time she had held a job was in the mid-1990s…’I was homeless and starving. We had nowhere to go,’ she said, fighting back tears. ‘I go to church and I pray. God, I pray. I say the same prayer every day.’ Had a family shelter existed at the time, Bechtel feels she could have avoided some of the pain and suffering she continues to endure. Bechtel was just one of several people who arrived Monday at Cup of Hope Café, 10 N. Ninth St., Lebanon, for a free dinner as part of the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour to bring awareness to homelessness…”

Chris Fitz and Troy Williams, Executive Director of Lebanon County Christian Ministries, hang a banner in downtown Lebanon with the words Homelessness: Lets Love Our Neighbor (Photo: Lebanon Daily-News)

Chris Fitz and Troy Williams, Executive Director of Lebanon County Christian Ministries, hang a banner in downtown Lebanon with the words Homelessness: Lets Love Our Neighbor
(Photo: Lebanon Daily-News)

 

May 2: York County native bikes to help the homeless: Christopher Fitz is preparing for a tour project that combines his concern for people who are homeless with his passion for biking (York Dispatch)

Snippet: “…Fitz, director of development at Harrisburg-based Brethren Housing Association, began his bike tour at his office on Sunday. He’ll ride more than 200 miles through Lancaster, Lebanon, York, Adams and Cumberland counties. His ride will conclude Sunday at his office. Fitz, 38, said he is doing the tour to help launch the association’s 20/20 Vision fundraising campaign to raise $2.25 million to help more families in the Harrisburg area. The tour also is designed to raise public awareness of homelessness in the central Pennsylvania region, Fitz said. The economic downtown and the lack of affordable housing have caused increased homelessness, he said…”

Chris puts up a make-shift canvas shelter for the evening (Photo: Brett Berwager)

Chris puts up a make-shift canvas shelter for the evening
(Photo: Brett Berwager)

 

April 28: Brethren Housing Association to hold block party, house dedication, bike tour (Harrisburg Patriot-News)

Snippet: “…The homeless are not only those who spend time in a library or ask for some change on a street corner. They aren’t only those who hold cardboard ‘will work for food’ signs outside downtown restaurants…”

Chris rode all eight days of the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour pulling a bike trailer bearing the sign Honk If You Help The Homeless (Photo: Brett Berwager)

Chris rode all eight days of the Homeless Horizons Bike Tour pulling a bike trailer bearing the sign Honk If You Help The Homeless
(Photo: Brett Berwager)

 

April 28: Fitz To Go “Homeless” For A Week (Madison At Hershey Heights)

Snippet: “…Chris Fitz has made awareness of the homeless in Pennsylvania a priority. The cyclist has decided to spend an entire week living “homeless.” On Sunday, May 1 Fitz will leave his home in Harrisburg to start his five county tour. Each day he will be trying to live off less than $10 a day and cooking with a camping stove…”

 

April 27: Bike trek to highlight plight of homeless: Christopher Fitz will pedal through Lebanon County during his 215-mile ride next week (Lebanon Daily News)

Snippet: “…Christopher Fitz, director of development for the Brethren Housing Association, will spend the next week touring Dauphin, Lebanon, Lancaster, York, Adams and Cumberland counties via bicycle, highlighting the plight of the homeless…”

 

April 26: Cyclist to pedal midstate for the homeless (York Daily Record)

Snippet: “…For one week, Chris Fitz will simulate the transient life of the homeless, stopping at shelters and community agencies around central Pennsylvania. And he’s doing it astride a bicycle…”

(Photo: Brett Berwager)

(Photo: Brett Berwager)

 

(See more Homeless Horizons Bike Tour pictures on BHA’s Facebook page.)

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