Greenfield man says he’s lacing up to walk 500 miles to thank local volunteers

  • Jeremy Williams of Greenfield says he is going on a 500-mile walk around the area to promote volunteerism.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jeremy Williams of Greenfield says he is going to walk a total of 500 miles to support and promote volunteerism. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jeremy Williams of Greenfield plans to walk each day for several hours around the area until he reaches 500 miles. He’s doing so to say “thank you” to people who volunteer.  STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/2/2019 12:15:19 AM

GREENFIELD — If you volunteer, and you’ve wondered if you’re appreciated, try looking around the area for a man walking with a sign. Actually, you can look for several of signs.

Those signs will be carried by Greenfield resident Jeremy Williams, who plans to walk 500 miles over the next five or six weeks in a display of gratitude for local charities and nonprofit organizations, as well as the people keeping them going.

Williams, who turns 49 this month, expects to start his fragmented journey today. He plans to walk 12 to 15 miles a day, six days a week. He aims to complete 80 to 90 miles each week, and said he will walk with handmade signs with messages thanking volunteers. Williams said he has spent the past six weeks training by walking 10 to 12 miles every day.

“It’s just amazing how many people dedicate their time and/or money,” he said.

Williams has long been aware of the people and organizations that lend a helping hand, but he now has the opportunity to express how overwhelmed he is with the sheer volume of volunteerism he has seen recently. A former personal care assistant, he turned to The Salvation Army on Chapman Street when his seasonal work at Summit Ice ended. The Salvation Army helped provide Christmas gifts for his 9-year-old daughter Lilly, as well as food for his family.

“I haven’t had the right time to do this walk,” he said. Until now.

He said his daily adventures will take him along Routes 5 and 10 to Turners Falls and up to Millers Falls. He said he might drive to some locations, such as Northampton and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, before beginning his walk of the day. Williams, who has lived in Greenfield Gardens for 20 years, said he would love to visit various food pantries to shake the hands of the people working there.

“The walking is easy,” he said. “The tougher part for me is, probably, bringing the attention to myself, you know what I mean? Because I’m a shy guy. It doesn’t sound like it, probably, right now. But ask her,” he said gesturing to his wife inside their home at Forbes Court in Greenfield Gardens. “This takes me way out of my comfort zone. But, I’m looking forward to it. You know what I mean? I’m sick of being in the comfort zone.”

Tina Williams said her husband’s decision surprised her, but also made her really proud. His daughter said she plans to walk the final mile with her dad, though he is not yet sure when or where that will be.

Williams said if this endeavor goes well, he is interested in eventually organizing a fundraiser walk for homelessness and/or the opioid abuse crisis. But this walk is simply a “thank you,” he said.

“I’m pretty stoked. I’m ready to go,” Williams said.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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