On Saturday, the Downtown 5K, Run for the Shelter starts at the Tabernacle Baptist Church, 112 E. Church St. in Cartersville. Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., followed by the road race at 8 a.m. The top three male and female overall winners and of each age group are going to receive awards and medals, respectively.
Participants also can pre-register -- $25 per participant and $20 for each additional relative -- by visiting the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter's website, www.goodneighborshelter.org.
Since forming in 1996, the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter has served more than 4,100 people. On average, the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001, assists nearly 345 individuals per year. While they are housed, Good Neighbor's guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter's staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options.
Funds raised through sponsorships and entry fees -- $30 for race-day registration -- will benefit the Good Neighbor. With the nonprofit having to raise the majority of its budget locally, events like the 5K, are integral to its day-to-day operations.
"It goes toward the general operating expenses of the shelter, which is important because we used to raise a lot of funds to make the shelter possible," said Jessica Mitcham, executive director for the Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter. "We're going into the winter, which is generally the busiest time of the year. Last year, three of the winter months we were at 100 percent capacity every single day. So we're getting ready to head into this time of year where the shelter will be full most every day.
"In order for us to have staff there and get all the things we need to have for guests, this is one of the fundraisers that we'll do to raise those dollars. Our annual budget is about $225,000 and only 5 percent of that comes from any kind of government source at all. The other 95 percent is raised locally. We are a United Way partner agency and so they raise a portion of that as well. But we'll raise a little over $180,000 just as an organization here really pretty exclusively in Bartow County to serve the shelter this year."
On Oct. 15, the Race for Salvation departs from the Cartersville Soccer Complex, 152 Milner Road in Cartersville, at 4 p.m. While registration is available on the day of the event, interested runners can sign up prior to the 5K road race at www.trinityumccartersville.org. The benefit also will feature door prizes, free refreshments, and awards for age group and overall winners.
"My wife and I had done several 5Ks," said Patrick Woodall, race director and board member for The Salvation Army's Cartersville Corps. "We were taking notes [at races] all throughout the area -- Woodstock, Marietta and I've run the [United Way's] Turkey Trot three years now -- [on] what we liked, what we didn't like, the aspects that go into making a good race. And we came up with a recipe of our own, that if you have a good cause and a good course and a good T-shirt that people will come. So that's what we put together and we think we have those aspects."
Entry fees for Race for Salvation are $20 per runner and $15 for cross country and track student athletes. To help further the efforts of The Salvation Army, Woodall hopes this year's offering will surpass that of its inaugural race, which drew about 45 participants and raised $1,500 for the nonprofit.
Throughout the year, The Salvation Army provides a host of offerings to the community, including worship services, a thrift store and distributing Christmas presents through its Angel Tree program. From October 2009 through September 2010, the Cartersville Corps also supplied aid -- food and financial assistance with utility bills, medications and rent -- to 1,157 households and 3,126 individuals.
"If you look at the name of the race, it's actually a play on words. It's Race for Salvation," Woodall said. "Trinity is our main sponsor. So it's not only for The Salvation [Army], it's for the salvation of you. So it's kind of a dual meaning, and I have to give our pastor Mike Morgan credit for coming up with that. ... The Salvation Army, I've always liked the way they do things.
"I like that they're a Christian organization. It's more than just ringing the bell at the holidays, they [meet] needs year-round be it [with] their food pantry or [other] general needs in that regard. So I've always had a soft spot for The Salvation Army ever since I was little kid."
Along with visiting www.trinityumccartersville.org, interested runners can contact Woodall at 770-298-3176 or firstname.lastname@example.org.