Bright Alternatives’ Walk for Life still on in Smethport

At the 2017 Walk for Life at Hamlin Lake, which raised funds for Bright Alternatives Inc., are Arianne Blackwell, Shiloh Hatcher, Kaliyah Crouse and Willow Crouse, holding yellow balloons that were given to each walker to raise awareness of the agency.

While this year has seen the cancellation of many events due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 28th Walk for Life is still on — with a few changes.

Scheduled to be held from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in Smethport’s Hamlin Lake Park, the event benefits Bright Alternatives, a non-profit pregnancy resource center with locations in Bradford and in Wellsville, N.Y.

“Our goal this year is $20,000,” said Kim Crouse, executive director. She explained since 2016, walks have been held in Wellsville as well as in Smethport. This year, however, with the COVID-19 restrictions in place, the Smethport event will be the only one.

They will be live-streaming the event on the internet for those who won’t be able to make it.

Crouse explained the need for the fundraiser.

“All the funds raised go to the general budget which covers all the needs from running the facilities to keeping the material needs met,” she said. “We currently have 2 locations and 3 employees.”

Quite a few needs have been met this year alone, Crouse explained.

“Year to date we have served around 50 families with almost 500 material items including diapers, wipes, and brand new full-size cribs and mattresses,” she said, adding, “133 hours of evidence-based empowering pregnancy and parenting education have been provided this year through the funds raised as well.”

All of the agency’s funds come from three main annual fundraisers, along with monthly support from individuals, churches and businesses.

“The walk is our fun family event,” she said. “Individuals collect donations from sponsors before the event and come out to the walk the day of. We have a lot of activities and a picnic lunch.”

Crouse said she had hoped this would be a year to grow the event, but the pandemic got in the way. However, the needs the agency answers are still there, despite the virus.

“We would like to be able to branch out into the surrounding areas to better serve women who are unable to come to Bradford or Wellsville because of transportation issues,” she explained. “Thankfully our new educational program can be accessed remotely which makes going mobile a bit easier. It is still going to be a considerable increase to our annual budget, but it’s so important to ensure women have the support they need and feel empowered with tools to make strong choices for themselves and their families.”

Committing to an event in these uncertain times may be more than some people want to do, and Crouse said supporters have already contacted the agency to assure their support even if they don’t attend.

“Our supporters are so cool. Many have called and shared that they are already planning to tune in on Facebook and walk around their neighborhood with their families,” she said. “We love this!

“These uncertain times have brought about creativity and a sense of unity in people, and that’s what our nation needs,” Crouse continued. “We do encourage people to register online so we can get a proper count and ensure we are adhering to all guidelines.”

And there are other ways to help.

“Even if people are not coming out to the physical event they can go online to register and collect donations, that link can be found on our Facebook page,” she explained. “Donations can be sent to our business office here in Bradford at 90 Boylston St. Suite 200 as well.

“Another way to help would be making a donation of diapers, sizes 4-7 are currently in high demand and due to purchasing restrictions, we are only able to buy so many packs at a time,” Crouse said.

“And of course, always be aware of ways you can help your neighbors. Knowing the resources available in our area, even if they are not something you need, is important. You might come across a young family that could benefit from our support.

“Volunteer your time and talent in ways that work for you and in general be kind to everyone you come across. People are struggling right now and even a brief interaction can add to or detract from the weight of their personal crisis.”

Despite the pandemic and a world filled with uncertainty, Crouse remains optimistic.

“We are honored to serve our community and help build a firm foundation for the next generation. Bright Alternatives is doing everything we can to ensure we maintain a healthy and inviting environment for those we serve,” she said. “The Walk is going to be a success no matter what because we have a strong and generous community!”

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