Don Norton and Karen Otterson to embark on journey across Illinois to raise awareness for the homeless.
Don and his fiance Karen are advocates for the homeless in Springfield and across the state. At the morning worship service of FBC Don briefly addressed the congregation concerning the intent of the walk which begins Sept. 10th in Gridley, IL. and is expected to end in Maryville in the next 30 days. Their mission is to bring awareness to the homeless who can even be found in the smaller towns in IL. Our prayers go with them and we will track their progress and activities during this event. Please pray for their safety and well-being. Springfield has approximately 287 homeless including 66 children.* Recently the pastor addressed the Christian response to this issue on his blog: Cardboard Signs
Tracking Don and Karen
Day one: Gridley to Towanda
On Monday September 10th at approximately 9:30am Don Norton and Karen Otterson arrived in Gridley, IL. to begin their month long trek to raise awareness for the homeless in Illinois. The Lord confirmed their decision to begin through the reading of Psalms 27-28. The first day saw many blessings and was attended toward the evening by blessings from the city board of Towanda, IL., allowing them to pitch their tent at any location in the city park. This blessing was arranged through prayer and a local law enforcement officer, Joshua Payne. Karen was experiencing some pain in her abdomen and was taken to the ER where she was told of a possible kidney stone. Please keep her in prayer. After having prayer last night with Bro. Dennis Norton of New Horizons Baptist Church in Pawnee, the two slept for the evening.
This morning, Tuesday Sept. 11th, they will begin from Towanda and continue their trip. Several news media outlets are expected to interview them including the Bloomington Pantograph and a local television station. I will update this page with links to those stories as they become available. This day is the Lord’s and I have prayed with them both for their safety, provision, health and the Lord’s direction. Please keep them in prayer as well.
Day two: Bloomington to Heyworth
A surprise companion Matthew Burgess of Home-Sweet-Home ministries in Bloomington was very helpful to the cause. He accompanied Don and Karen this morning to the edge of town and gave them a send-off as they continued their journey. Karen is feeling much better after a good nights sleep in a local motel room where she was able to rest. We will continue to monitor their progress.
Day three: Heyworth to Clinton
Don and Karen will be taking off from Heyworth to make their way to Clinton. last night they were blessed by the support of Officer Tapke who allowed them the privilege to setup camp in the city park. Many came by and blessed them with words of encouragement and support. They were even blessed with a pizza dinner! We prayed for the journey of today in the hopes that even more will apprised of and get involved with the homeless in Illinois.
Today was a very eventful day. On the way in to Clinton they experienced a flat tire on the cart. So they called Wal-Mart, a sponsor, who promptly exchanged the cart. Channel 20 news interviewed them as they made their way into town to place information on the news. It rained over night in Clinton but they stayed dry and their spirits were not dampened. They left around 10:30am after things dried out and went to lunch with Linda, the owner of Lighthouse Christian Thrift Store who was very gracious.
Day four: Clinton to Decatur
As Don and Karen traveled toward Decatur they were stopped near the town of Maroa by a man and wife, Craig Randall who wanted to donate, may God bless them. Near Forsyth, six others stopped to inquire of them, including a couple, Linda and her husband who offered them a place to tent in their yard. Don misplaced the couples phone number but God’s sovereign provision came through. Don and Allie Cooley of Mt. Pulaski picked them up and took them to Decatur Grace United Methodist Church where they were invited to stay on their grounds. This was a blessing as Don’s arm was hurting from pushing the cart which pulls to the right. While at the church four others came by wanting to know more information about their purpose. Upon dispensing information, they were offered donations which they are not asking for but finally accepted; the amount was $35.00. Altogether they have passed out around 40 flyers on their purpose for the walk and where they can be tracked. For The day will start off with breakfast at Decatur Family Refuge Shelter followed by a day of rest. They will spend one more night in Decatur, attend church at Grace UMC tomorrow, and take off in the afternoon on the next leg of the journey. Please continue to pray.
Day five: Decatur to Boody
Don and Karen spent the night it Grace UMC in Decatur and attended the morning worship on Sunday the 16th. They were graciously given the opportunity to speak about their mission during worship and again that day at the Homeless Day Center, Oasis. Catherine Taylor and live-in client Jerry both accompanied them to the outskirts of Decatur as them moved on. On the way to Boody they were stopped by 3 people, 2 inquiries and 1 young lady, Bobbie, who was excited about their mission and told them to keep up the good work. Channel 3 news of Champaign interviewed them on Sunday which is where Bobbie found out about them. At Boody they were assisted by the Sheriff’s dept and allowed to stay at the city park. Today they are waiting for the fog to lift as they make their way toward Taylorville, IL. They are hoping to arrive and will stay at the Taylorville Southern Baptist Church. Please continue to pray!
Day six: Boody to Taylorville:
Don and Karen arrived in Taylorville with Don limping. Please keep him in prayer. The Doctor said that pushing the shopping cart has produced some pulled muscles. They will have to wait to continue the March for about a week. They will begin again after they get Doctor approval and will start out from Springfield toward their original destination. The Daily Breeze newspaper conducted another interview and several stopped to inquire and wish them God’s speed as they made it into Taylorville. They would like for everyone to continue to keep them in prayer.
Day seven: Springfield to Auburn:
Don and Karen are slated to pickup the March this week based upon Don’s ability to make the walk and the changing of the weather. They will start in downtown Springfield and walk to the southwest edge of town and trek down Rt. 4. A large croup of supporters will walk with them to Wal-Mart where they will head toward Chatham and eventually Auburn.
While at Auburn they were assisted by Officer Moelleur who was in touch with the United Methodist Church. The Pastor, Brian Caughlin, was very hospitable and allowed them to stay on the Church property where they tented down. The next morning showers were offered by the UMC and they spent some quality time in fellowship and instruction centering on educating the public on homelessness. Afterwards more support was given and later at Casey’s General Store they found that blankets, coats and hats had been anonymously donated to them.
Later they would be interviewed by WSMI radio of Central Illinois. You can catch that interview over the weekend by tuning into to 1540 AM.
Please keep them in prayer as they continue to keep the public abreast of the plight of the homeless in Central Illinois and across the state.
Day eight: Auburn to Carlinville
The day saw Don and Karen heading out with blessings down Rt. 4 toward Carlinville. They have since stopped near the WIBI Christian radio facilities where they are hoping to be interviewed. Arriving cold and soaking wet the graciousness of the Christian Radio station for Central Illinois has provided them with a place to rest and lodge for the evening at Lake Williamson Retreat and Conference Center. A word of thanks to Carrie Van Alstine, project coordinator, who offered to put Brandee, their dog, up for the night . Today they will head toward Gillespie, IL where they hope to find a laundromat to dry up their belongings. Stay tuned for more coming today on the events of the day and evening.
Day nine: Carlinville to Gillespie to Benld
Traffic was high today on Rt. 4. Don and Karen left at 8:15 with a prayer from Pastor Webb of New Hope Baptist Church in Springfield. The Pastor was attending a retreat at the Lake Williamson Conference center and caught them on the way out. Carrie from WIBI passed a flyer to all of the WIBI affiliate stations to help broadcast the mission. A special thanks goes out to Dennis of the conference center, The O’Connel family of Gillespie for providing water, Jody Jackson who helped with laundry, Jim and Gay Suhling who delivered them a bagged lunch and dog food for Brandee, Amy Bennett who stopped and prayed with them, and the Browns for providing a place to tent at their residence in Benld. Tomorrow they will have breakfast with the Browns, will attend church in Benld, speak to the assembly and then head out toward Staunton. God blessed them in many ways today with donations and prayer. Please continue to pray for the homeless and for their safety.
Day ten: Benld to Staunton
On Sunday Don and Karen attended Cornerstone Ministry Church where they were able to share with members the cause of their march. The Church had a Harvest Sunday and they shared some of the bounty them. After prayer they headed to Staunton where the Lord blessed them by moving over 50 people to stop and chat about their cause to bring attention to the plight of Homelessness in Illinois. They passed out 50 flyers and as many listened to Don’s speech to the townsfolk. The Staunton Local newspaper said they would run an article this week which would also be another blessing. Overall they were overjoyed in the city and as they left toward Hamel a nice lady brought them some water and tea to refresh them on the road. A nurse from Barnes Hospital in St. Louis stopped and shared how the hospital always takes in homeless that are hungry and in need of shelter from the elements. Don said, that is how it should be. May God bless them this day with more contacts as they continue to inform the public about those in need.
Day eleven: Staunton to Hamel
I just spoke with Don and they are headed out with God’s blessings in front and behind. They will be staying tonight in Hamel and as the day goes by we will update you on the happenings of the march! Today marked many blessings including Linda Weiler and staff at DK Market in Hamel for the generous use of the fax machine!. This allowed necessary communications to proceed between them and the next city. The Edwardsville Intelligencer has agreed to do an interview again, to promote the Homeless Mission.
Day twelve: Hamel to Maryville
The Day started with Psalms 22 and prayer. Maryville is the next stop and the next update will contain information on where they will go from here. Altogether the trip was around 230 miles pushing a shopping cart and Chocolate Lab. They arrived safely and were given permission by the Local police to tent on a local lot. Plans changed for Church attendance this evening, so they will update us later on the evenings events. A nice lady named Chantel prayed with them and told them of the work being done for the homeless in Alton and some ladies of the Maryville Public Library invited them in to discuss the event. This was encouraging. After services this evening they will spend one more night in Maryville, near Wal-Greens, and come back to Springfield in the morning.
Please continue to pray for them as this trip and work took a lot out of them. They purposely pushed a shopping cart to gauge the reaction of the public and their attitude toward homelessness. The results will be posted and further advances toward a bigger and better shelter, to include a day center in Springfield, are on the agenda. The Edwardsville Intelligencer ran an article today that you can view here: March For the Homeless!