9 years, 5,000 miles and 29 pairs of shoes: How one woman is helping homeless vets

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Kim Denmark, founder of Walking Across America, Inc. helps out a homeless man by dressing his wounded feet. (Photo courtesy Kim Denmark)

By Jake Hughes

If you wanted to visit every state in America, you’d be looking at a journey of around 6,000 miles, or 160 hours of driving depending on your route.

That would be a daunting task, but one woman is taking it a step further — literally.

Nine years ago in the Ohio snow, Kim Denmark had an epiphany.

“I had turned my head away from the problem of homelessness in this country, and I asked God what can I do to change this, and make up for what I had not done?”

Within 48 hours, Denmark had made up her mind: she was going to walk across America to bring attention to poor and homeless people, especially veterans. Nine years, 5,000 miles, and 29 pairs of shoes later, Denmark is still walking.

“Walking across America was supposed to be a short-term commitment, but it became a lifelong journey,” Denmark tells ConnectingVets.com in a recent interview.

When she sees a homeless person panhandling, she will stop and engage with them. It doesn’t matter to her why they are homeless.

Even if they suffer from substance abuse, she will feed them, do what she can to clothe them, and put them in contact with local shelters or Veteran’s Administration center.

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Kim Denmark receives a police escort as she approaches a small town in Georgia. (Photo courtesy Kim Denmark)

But walking isn’t the only way Denmark is doing something about homelessness. In 2001, she founded Walk Across America, Inc. — a non-profit that raises money for the poor and homeless.

By 2005, Walk Across America, Inc. had grown to meeting and assisting over 600 men woman and children, and feeding over 1,000 children in a single year and several in-kind services from non-corporate donors. For Denmark, though, she makes her own way. Every so often, she will stop in a random town and take a job, usually washing dishes or other menial tasks. Once she has refilled her coffers, it’s back on the road.

Denmark says the best way to help the homeless is to get active.

“In your community, there is an American Legion, there is a Veterans Administration, and if there isn’t, you roll up your sleeves, get on the streets and help the man standing on the corner asking for money,” she says.

If you want to get involved or if you know someone struggling with homelessness, you can visit her website for more information. If that isn’t direct enough, Denmark actually invites you to call her directly.

“Who else do we have out here? We only have each other, so I’m asking people please call me at 678-818-9907. It is an honor to serve those men and women who have served for us,” she says.

And as for Denmark? She’s just going to keep walking as long a she can.

“I’m so fortunate to be able to impact the lives of others, all while partnering with some of the most passionate and driven philanthropists on the globe,” Denmark says.

Connect: @JakeTheArmyGuy | Jake@ConnectingVets.com

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