UDMO Walk a Mile off to a slow start

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Upper Des Moines Opportunity Inc. will have to postpone its "Walk A Mile" program - at least long enough to find someone to slip on some less-than-comfortable shoes of another.

In its second year, Walk a Mile seeks to team up people living in poverty with local government policy makers. By sharing each other's lives for a season, the program hopes to create awareness and a dialogue on social needs in northwest Iowa.

Last year, State Rep. Mary Lou Freeman paired with a local student and single mother to kick off the program.

Both said they gained a lot from the experience.

This year, while UDMO expected an even stronger effort, members of government are not so quick to step forward.

"Despite repeated attempts to secure policymakers, we came up short and were forced to postpone the program with the hopes that we could generate more interest and offer a quality program later in the year," said Gina Lowman Hall of UDMO.

Persons paired up in the program have regular phone contacts and face-to-face experiences like shopping at a food pantry program or attending legislative meetings. Last year, Freeman visited in the small Storm Lake home of her partner and discussed the rigors of attending college while working. She and her partner spent a night riding with a State Patrol officer.

The charitable agency is urging and city, county, state or national policy-makers who would be willing to take part to call UDMO. It is hoped that the program can be revived for November/December 2006.

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