The Inmate Activities Committee (IAC) at SCI Mercer hosted its 4th annual Polar Bear Walk on Feb. 9. Forty-two participants walked nine laps, which is two miles, around the yard on the brisk 18-degree morning. Once completed, they went to the gym to warm up and listen to a presentation on homelessness from Albert Beinhardt, a current resident at Joshua's Haven, and John Swetz, the director of Joshua's Haven.
The purpose of the Polar Bear Walk is to help the men who participate to understand what others who may be without shelter in the winter coldness go through. Those who participate are encouraged (but not required) to underdress for the weather conditions to get the experience of what it may be like to be out in the cold without warm clothing or shelter.
This year's event raised $300 for Joshua's Haven, located in Sharon, Pa. This organization provides on-site temporary, emergency shelter for homeless men in the community. Once they have met all clearances, the men are offered a clean, safe environment at the shelter where they can sleep, take a shower, get a hot meal, and take advantage of supportive and spiritual services at the mission. The men's ministry staff and resident assistants are on-site during all the hours of operation. Joshua's Haven also offers the Bread Program that gives free bread and other small items to those in need every Saturday and Sunday.
The IAC donation will go toward providing shelter and food for the homeless men at Joshua's Haven. Swetz and Beinhardt, volunteers from the organization, were present to accept the donation.
Pictured left to right accepting the donation are John Swetz and Albert Beinhardt with Activities Specialist Chad Ford.