Thrive UMC 5K gathers community, helps homeless youth

Thrive UMC 5K gathers community, helps homeless youth

September 28, 2015


Three hundred runners and walkers made their way around a 5k (3.3 mile) course in West Des Moines to help homeless youth in the Greater Des Moines area.  The Food Truck 5k was also an opportunity to gather a community on a picture-perfect early fall afternoon.

Rev. Jennifer Hibben, one of Thrive’s pastors, told the crowd, “We’re out here doing a great fun 5k to benefit the community, to benefit the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers, and to give these awesome food trucks a great venue to see their specialties.”


Rev. Jeremy Poland, founding pastor of the Thrive community, said, “Our team has been absolutely amazing – consistently!”  They spread the word and made this one of the top three biggest 5k’s in Des Moines in the last 5 years.  We’re really excited about that!”

The first-of-its-kind event for Thrive was held at the West Des Moines Aquatic Center and on nearby streets.  The race starter’s horn went off at exactly 5:00 pm.  “We had some tough competition out there,” Hibben noted. “They were anxious to get off the starting line.”  Though it wasn’t a timed race, “we had a few prizes for the top finishers,” she added.

Rev. Poland described mission as a key component of the Thrive experience.  In particular, Iowa Homeless Youth Center was chosen because “the mission and ministry of what they do overlays with us.  We related to them.”  He went on to draw a parallel – “We’re a new church – we don’t have a home, ourselves…we’re struggling to make it by.”  Poland wanted it know that the IHYC “team and their leadership have been really awesome to work with.”

Toby O’Berry, Iowa Home Youth Center’s director, was at the Food Truck 5k  He told the runners and walkers poised at the starting line that IHYC “works with transition age homeless youth from ages 16-22 and up to 25 if they’re parenting or they’re pregnant.  Our goal is to step in like a positive adult would do.  Sadly, O’Berry pointed out, “the people who come to us don’t have that positive role model.”  

Iowa Homeless Youth Centers help “kids to get back on their feet, providing them shelter and housing,” O’Berry said.  “We work with them on education and employment goals so that they can transition on to become a successful independent adult in our community.”

Emma Christianson, IHYC’s Development Coordinator, added, “It really means a lot for us” to be a part of Thrive UMC’s first Food Truck 5k.  IHYC was grateful “to receive the goodness of Thrive to help us to promote our cause and to put out more awareness of what we do.”

More than a dozen of Des Moines’ food trucks were positioned on the Aquatic Center’s grounds, offering up salads, tacos, specialty sandwiches, vegan offerings, Korean barbecue, and beverages to the runners and hundreds of family members and friends who came to cheer on the runners and walkers.

Rev. Jen Hibben probably summed it up best – “This was fun for everybody.”

Click here to see more images from the Food Truck 5K