Running For Home
While walking with her young mentee at St. Vincent Catholic Charities’ Children’s Home, it became clear to Ann Crane that more mentors were desperately needed. It was simply not fair that some of the children had mentors and others did not. “That is when I had the idea … I figured that the work that I did at my day job with Playmakers as coordinator of a runner’s coach program could easily be transferred to St. Vincent’s mentor program,” explained Ann Crane
Before long, Crane was pitching the idea to the Playmakers owners, who enthusiastically embraced the idea of mentoring kids at STVCC through a running/walking program, including throwing in t-shirts, shoes and motivational trinkets and awards. In its first year, this program has racked up some significant progress for the kids, dozens of mentors/coaches, and 70 participating STVCC staff members.
While several volunteers have been recruited through Playmakers’ contacts in the running community, it is notable that some of them enter the program with little to no experience in running/walking. Take Nettie – “I didn’t join the program to be a walker; I joined to be a mentor/coach and have come to be a walker. I even bought a pedometer to mark my progress. I was not a runner, not even a walker, but I was willing to be a team member, to be there for the kids.”
Or Mary, who grew up close to St. Vincent Children’s Home and had a childhood friend who grew up in the home – “I knew that the kids at STVCC face great adversity and I thought maybe I could help them in the limited time that I am with them to provide support, be a role model, and nurture them. To show up when I say I am going to show up.”
Success for this program could be measured in miles run or walked, numbers of events, children served and, of course, numbers of mentor/coaches. We could share that information, but the reports of the participating volunteers is probably the best measure of success. “At the beginning of this program the kids would often come out to meet us sullen and maybe even in an angry place, but by the end of a session they seemed lighter and happier. As the program continued we have noticed that we all are continuing to build on those positive feelings. More and more of the children now are rushing out to greet us, happy to see us, and ready to give and get hugs. How can you measure that?”
For more information on how to become a volunteer at St. Vincent Catholic Charities, please contact Dr. Thomas Woods, Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, at (517) 323-4734 ext. 1203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.