To the editor,

On July 13, 2019, a group gathered at Elim Grace Church to begin the prayer walk for the 6th annual Prayer for the Prodigal event. The event is held each year by Victory Transformation, Inc., a local faith based outreach mission.  

Almost 60 people walked from Elim Grace on West First Street, to Bridge Street, to West Fifth and down Cayuga Street to our destination at Veteran’s Park (riverfront stage) to stand against violence, addiction and other things that are turning our friends and family away from God and each other.  Almost 80 people were gathered at Veteran’s Park to celebrate the loving return of these prodigals.  We grilled and had live music. We heard great testimony from people who found their way back after addiction and we had new resolve for those whose journey ended too soon.  

We do this each year and it is our hope that other communities will participate in their own walk and celebration the second Saturday of July.   Part of the reason it was such a huge success was because of the local businesses and churches that really made this event possible.

Thank you to our sponsors, Oswego County Monuments and Northwestern Mutual.  Thank you to the local businesses that donated to our event this year:  Price Chopper, Wal-Mart, Paul’s Big M, The Connection Point and Eagle Beverage.   

Thank you Elim Grace for kicking off the event and to Reformed Presbyterian Church for opening the ceremony at Veteran’s Park with prayer and song.  Thank you Vince and Deb Aquilino for your prayer and blessing over the prodigals.  Thank you to Mayor Billy Barlow and the City of Oswego and particularly for Lisa Donnabella at the Office of Economic Development for being super helpful and cheerfully expecting my call each year.  Thank you to the Oswego community who loves God and our mission and cheered us on and showed support as we walked.   

Thank you to our committee: Fred and Nikki Bauer, Vita Friedlander, Jen Boshart, Bill Whittaker and Emily Saternow.  Thank you to the Victory volunteers and advocates who worked so hard on the details.  Thank you to our musicians Karl and Michelle LaGray, Joe Grasso, Bill Whittaker and John Fentress.  Thank you to our AmeriCorps volunteers, Katrina Usiatynski and Stephanie Smith for working hard to launch a Homeless Bag Drive at the event to help the homeless that we serve in our Victory Houses and at the Center.  Thank you Jeanne and Karl Czirr for your sign-making. Thank you Pam Baldwin for driving the van with no AC just so people walking could have water and a ride if needed.  We look forward to seeing everyone at the next Prayer for the Prodigals event, July 11, 2020.

Daun M. Whittaker, LCSW, CPRP

Founder and Exec. Director

Victory Transformation, Inc.

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