Horse-drawn carriages are making their way to Downtown Lawrence for a good cause. McGrew Real Estate REALTOR® Emily Willis Stewart brought the idea to Lawrence as a way to benefit the Lawrence Community Shelter, an organization that obtains nearly half of its funding from community donations.
“As a Realtor, our job is to find people homes,” Stewart says. “To think that any child or family in Douglas County is sleeping on the streets is unacceptable. We have to make a change.”
The event, titled “Pulling for a Change,” will begin on the north side of the Eldridge Hotel in the valet parking lane. Carriages will venture down Massachusetts and Vermont streets so that riders can experience the holiday ambiance of downtown, which includes twinkling lights and decorated storefronts. A suggested donation of $8 a person, or $30 for a family of four, will go to the shelter, as well as 10 percent of food bills from the Eldridge House Grille for the nights of the carriage rides.
Lawrence Community Shelter Executive Director Renee Kuhl says the event could significantly benefit the shelter’s funding needs. “We really need ways to generate private donor support on a regular basis to help the shelter thrive and become stable, so more ideas and annual events that we can develop like this are going to make a huge difference in the viability of the shelter,” Kuhl says.
The non-profit is the only emergency homeless shelter serving Lawrence and Douglas County. It provides a stable environment of three meals a day, hot showers, laundry, storage and, through partnerships, access to services that promote physical and mental well-being.
“Our main goal is to transition people out of homelessness as quick as possible,” Kuhl explains. “We have a lot of strategies for doing that, and since I’ve started, I’m working really hard to improve that system. We’ll measure how long people are here, what’s our average length of stay here, and work to try to reduce the time that people are in the shelter.”
Both Stewart and Kuhl hope this is just the beginning and that the event will grow larger each year to give back to the Lawrence Community Shelter and the people of Lawrence.
Sponsors for “Pulling for a Change” are McGrew Real Estate, Grand Builders, Emprise Bank, Eldridge Hotel, Lawyers Title of Kansas, Scott Temperature and Clouse Inspection.
Carriage Ride Schedule
Begins on the north side of the Eldridge Hotel
December 15 & 22 / 1 – 5 PM
December 16 & 17 / 4:30 – 8 PM