In 2006 and 2007, Zach threw holiday parties for kids living in hurricane FEMA trailers and filled 2,000 backpacks with food, toiletries, candy, and toys for homeless children. Inspired by a documentary about Mildred Norman, the “Peace Pilgrim,” who walked 25,000 miles during the last 28 years of her life to spread her anti-war message, Zach decided to raise awareness by walking from his house to the White House. The 1,225-mile journey would be completed in three segments.
In 2007, Zach walked from his home in Tampa to Florida’s capitol building in Tallahassee. He raised $25,000 in 23 days. In 2008, he walked from Tallahassee to Atlanta to raise $17,000 for a Habitat for Humanity home. “Although I did not raise as much money, I think I raised a lot more awareness to the plight of homeless youth in our country,” Zach commented.
According to Ellen Bassuk, president of The National Center on Family Homelessness, approximately “1.5 million children are homeless in the USA at some point each year.” And it’s getting worse due to the “depth of the economic recession and the staggering numbers of housing foreclosures nationally.”
In 2009 Zach completed the last segment, a 668-mile trek from Atlanta to Washington. D.C. Upon his arrival in Washington, Zach met with Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss and spoke with several other U.S. Senators on Capitol Hill. While in D.C., Zach slept at the Sasha Bruce emergency shelter.
“He is a very unusual young man,” said Deborah Shore, executive director of Sasha Bruce Youthwork in Washington, D.C., which provides services for runaway and homeless teenagers, including a shelter.
Written for KidsTerrain.com. Reprinted with permission.