WALLINGFORD — Equipped with a 40-pound backpack and a desire to help, a local CEO plans to hike the Appalachian Trail next month in support of efforts to end homelessness.
Chris Ulbrich, CEO of Ulbrich Stainless Steel and Special Metals Inc., will hike a portion of the trail for 25 days in July.
“This is one of my hobbies and I thought this would be a nice way to give back something to the Columbus House,” Ulbrich said.
The avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast contacted Columbus House, a nonprofit organization in New Haven, to set up the fundraiser. The funds will help support the Wallingford Emergency Shelter, which is run by Columbus House.
Ulbrich’s journey will begin in Connecticut and conclude in Vermont. He plans to hike 256 miles from start to finish, which is roughly 5 to 10 miles per day. Company employees, friends, family, and Columbus house volunteers will join him for different parts of the hike.
Director of Development Catherine DiTuri said Columbus House works with volunteers to raise awareness and find solutions for homelessness.
“This is actually a really fabulous peer to peer fundraising tool that we’re using for this event and he’s really spearheaded this and got the word out to his community, his friends, his colleagues in addition to Columbus House supporters,” DiTuri said.
The goal of the project is to raise $20,000. Ulbrich plans to match up to $10,000 in donations. About $7,000 has already been pledged.
DiTuri said the Wallingford Emergency Shelter is grateful for the Ulbrich family’s decades of support.
Chris Ulbrich’s father, the late Fred Ulbrich Jr., was a longtime benefactor. The shelter’s family center at 123 Quinnipiac St., opened in 2015, bears his name. It was funded through matching donations of $50,000 each from Chris Ulbrich and community groups.
“We are very grateful for Chris and his continuing support as he’s a very influential member of the community and he understands the need and causes of homelessness,” DiTuri said. “It really helps us to spread the word about our work, gain support, both financially and through volunteers, and just raising awareness.”