50 Years of Walking & Running for Interfaith

This Saturday, Interfaith Social Services will be celebrating 50 years of supporting our community along with 800+ of our closest friends at our 2024 Stop the Stigma 5K. We will be running (or walking) in solidarity to stop the stigmas that exist in our society around mental illness and addiction.

If you cannot be with us on April 27, we ask that you make a $50 donation for our 50th! Be a part of our anniversary celebration and at the same time, sustain our New Directions Counseling Center – a safety net for our neighbors in need who are struggling with their mental health.


The History of South Shore Walk-a-thon / Stop the Stigma 5K

In 1974, we launched our first South Shore Walk fundraiser. Interfaith Social Services (known at the time as Protestant Social Services Bureau) faced a funding crisis that threatened the closure of our organization. This walk-a-thon, along with the opening our Thrift Shop, allowed us to keep our doors open to serve our community.

Over the next couple of decades, Interfaith was heavily supported by faith communities. The walk always took place on Sunday afternoons after church services. The route changed from year to year because houses of worship took turns being the “event host.”

Throughout the early years, the length of the course changed several times. At one point, the walk was 10 miles long! In the 90s, Interfaith reached a record-breaking event total of $35,000.

In the early 2000s, the event settled on a Quincy location and added “family fun” activities to encourage more families from the community to participate. There was entertainment for children, arts & crafts, food and more.

In 2014, with the emergence of 5K race popularity, Interfaith’s event team mapped new 5K route, hired a professional timing company, and added registration fees. The event was renamed to South Shore Walk & 5K Run.

In 2016, the event’s focus shifted to raising funds and awareness specifically for our New Directions Counseling Center, as need in the community was growing. And in 2018, the event was officially rebranded as what it is known as today – Stop the Stigma 5K.

By 2019, the Stop the Stigma 5K became more of a running vs. walking event, hosting 500 participants and raising more than $53,000. It was the biggest show of support from our community the event had ever seen.

In addition to the outpouring of generosity, we were also hearing more people talking about mental health. Many of our participants shared their stories and struggles with mental health and what this event meant to them.

In March of 2020, after we had already starting planning our event as usual, the COVID pandemic hit. We had to wade into uncharted waters and pivot to a virtual 5K. We thought our fundraising efforts would suffer. However, our virtual community stepped up, helping us raise close to $70,000 – all by running or walking in their own neighborhoods, getting on social media to ask their peers for support and sharing masked photos with us! Rinse and repeat for 2021…

In 2022, we joyously (and safely) returned to an in-person event! And to say our community was excited about it is an understatement! It was a record-breaking year, with 700 participants raising more than $100,000!

And then in 2023, we broke records AGAIN, raising $131,000!


This event has evolved quite a bit over these 50 years, but our mission has remained the same – to help those in need.

Join us and DONATE $50 for our 50th!

You can also choose to celebrate our anniversary all year long by becoming a monthly donor!

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