Ten years ago, during the spring LCUSA board meeting in Evansville, a plan was shared by then president Albe McGurk and North Central Regional Vice President Gayle Johnson. Their hope was to have an annual walk to bring awareness to both the needs of the poor and the Ladies of Charity who serve them. Their plan was to have the walk in every city where Ladies of Charity were present. Gayle reached out to her longtime friend in St. Louis, Kathy Coco, and asked her if she would chair the St. Louis effort. Kathy knew Gayle from her own days in Kansas City and from college and of course she said yes. Kathy’s mother too was a Lady of Charity in KC.
And so, it began. This past September the Ladies of St. Vincent’s Parish in St. Louis celebrated their 10th-consecutive year of their ‘Pounding the Pavement for the Poor Walk’. As far as we know, a few associations tried the annual walk back in 2009 but we are the only association who has continued it. It is also now known locally as the ‘Kathy Coco Memorial Walk’. The walk is always held in a city park on the last Saturday of September near the feast of St. Vincent. In addition to the walk we ask for participants to bring gently used tennis shoes which we can distribute to those less fortunate.
For the past several years our event has been chaired by Mary Curren assisted by Elaine Roche and Mary’s dedicated husband Chas who has become an ‘honorary lady’ along with their devoted committee. We always have bagels with cream cheese, cookies, fruit, coffee and water available to those who attend but this year Mary wanted to do something special in honor of the 10th anniversary. She arranged for hot dogs and chips to be available to the walkers upon their return. It was nice to have walkers and volunteers sit for a while, share a light lunch and memories of the past before departing for the rest of their day.
It is heartwarming and a gift to all us, that after 10 years, Kathy’s husband Matt, their children, family and friends still share this event with us by attending. We hope this never ends!
The proceeds of the Walk enable us to provide for less fortunate through the parish Christmas Program and support high school students by assisting them with their tuition toward a Catholic education. The students must remain in a Catholic High School, maintain good grades and participate in service work. Our Ladies work countless hours every year with our own programs as well as those through the parish. It is our honor to serve in the Vincentian mission of not only serving the poor but also of knowing them.
President, Ladies of Charity St. Vincent Parish, St. Louis, MO