Humanitarian walking 100 miles for SoCal, global hunger

This week, CWS's Maurice A. Bloem is walking 100 miles for the world's most vulnerable - and joining with volunteers across Southern California in CROP Hunger Walks along the way.

Church World Service executive joins valley CROP Hunger Walkers this week on personal marathon of commitment

EDITORS NOTE: Interviews, visual opportunities available by arrangement during Mr. Bloem’s 100-mile trek.

Saturday, March 10

Dr. George Flowers from the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a CWS board member, joined the walk from Glendale to Altadena.

Thursday, March 8

A conversation with Father George McLeary while visiting the Church of Hope Food Pantry and Thrift Shop in Canyon Country, Calif.

Tuesday, March 6

Betty Eskey of the Samaritan Center in Simi Valley, Calif., shares about the current situation in the area and how the CROP Hunger Walk is helping.

Monday, March 5

CWS's Julie Brumana promotes Maurice Bloem's blog at the First United Methodist Church in Simi Valley, Calif.

Sunday, March 4

Maurice Bloem, right, pauses with a group of volunteers on the way to Simi Valley, Calif., on Sunday, March 4.  Photo: Tim Shenk/CWS

Friday, March 2

THOUSAND OAKS, CA -- Each spring and fall thousands of volunteers across Southern California step out for a few miles to raise money for hunger programs at home and abroad in their communities’ CROP Hunger Walks.

But this Sunday (March 4) in Thousand Oaks, one participant, Maurice A. Bloem, a senior executive with Church World Service, will be walking the walk for the world’s most vulnerable – for 100 miles. 

Typical CWS-sponsored CROP Hunger Walks, the oldest charity walks in America and the only charitable events that raise funds to fight hunger both locally and internationally, cover much shorter stretches. But Bloem, deputy director of CWS, will join walkers for the spring Conejo Valley CROP Hunger Walk in Thousand Oaks and then will go the extra hundred miles, he says, “to remind myself and others that we can and must do our parts to help end the tragedy of hunger at home and worldwide, once and for all.”

Bloem will start his California hunger trek by joining some 700 volunteers for the 4.5 mile Conejo Valley CROP Hunger Walk, which kicks off Sunday, 1 p.m., at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. Following the Conejo Valley event, which has raised $690,240 for hunger since its inception in 1995, Bloem will walk to Simi Valley.

In Simi and throughout the communities along his weeklong route, Bloem will visit volunteer groups, food pantries and hunger agencies that receive CROP Hunger Walk funds. He will discuss current global strategies and CWS’s programs that now are helping people in some of the world's poorest regions improve nutrition and build food security.

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Bloem’s humanitarian trek will take him through Chatsworth, Newhall and the Santa Clarita Valley, Sherman Oaks, Glendale and Altadena, Pasadena and Duarte, ending Sunday (March 11) in Glendora, where he will join walkers for the East San Gabriel Valley CROP Hunger Walk. The Walk, now organized by some 10 area churches, has been an annual Los Angeles County event since 1999.

A native of the Netherlands who formerly directed CWS's programs in Indonesia, Bloem said it is not unusual for charitable agency leaders to participate in their own causes’ events. But, “In the face of a hunger crisis unlike anything the world has seen in more than 50 years – including here in the U.S. – I felt I needed to do something more than I do everyday, even with all the hunger and poverty-fighting programs Church World Service does worldwide.”

Bloem's 100-mile participation is an expansion on the efforts of thousands of CROP Hunger Walkers in some 1,600 communities across the nation who each year walk to support CWS efforts to alleviate hunger. 

Says Bloem, "This walk is a show of solidarity with poor and vulnerable people everywhere and with the volunteers whose CROP Hunger Walk participation proves, year in and year out, that we can each be the change that we want to see in this world. I wanted to follow in their footsteps.

“At least 925 million people are hungry around the world,” he said. “Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes – one child every five seconds. But I am convinced that we can end hunger and malnutrition in our lifetime.”
CWS Southern California regional director Julie Brumana, a Chatsworth resident, said, “In Los Angeles County alone, 1 million children are at risk of hunger. One quarter of the children in Ventura County don’t have access to enough food.  Maurice’s hundred miles of commitment and solidarity with our other CROP Hunger Walkers are doubly appreciated now because children and adults right in our own backyards and around the globe need all the help we can give.”

Over the years, the CROP Hunger Walk communities that CWS’s Bloem will visit have, together, raised nearly $3.1 million for hungry people in Southern California and globally.

When Bloem, who is based in New York City, arrives in Los Angeles on Saturday (March 3), he will warm up for his week-long journey by serving dinner and sharing a meal with a group of homeless people at St. Julie’s Catholic Church in Newbury Park. The church program is part of Lutheran Social Services’ Conejo Valley Winter Shelter Program and one of five local agencies supported by the valley’s CROP Hunger Walk.

Media resources:
•  Full week’s itinerary for Bloem’s trek and related public meetings, dialogues and visits to local hunger-fighting organizations
•  Bio of Bloem
•  Hi-res photo of Bloem


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