Running, charity and all that laces them together.

Running, charity and all that laces them together.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Brooke in the News by heather m.

Check out this Washington Post article about Brooke and the runningbrooke Fund:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Zoom, Zoom . . . Zumba!!!!!!! by heather m.

On Sunday January , Brooke Curran skipped running for the day (Yes, really!) and hosted a Zumba Explosion at the Carlyle Club in Alexandria. 

     Okay, I'm a spoilsport. No, I didn't Zumba. My newest podiatrist said I couldn't, but she did, and she told me she had so much fun doing it!! Brooke, my podiatrist, and more than 90 other participants Zumba'd (Is that a verb?) through two classes led by the ladies of X-Factor Fitness.  (Drop by their website and sign up for one of their classes. You'll have a great time and sweat a lot too!)
Kaesha Matthews, Brooke, Mayor Euilee, Zabrime Watson, Geneza Simoes, and Jeanine Bennis

Brooke put together this event with Arlene Hewitt, an Associate at the Carlyle Club. For one fun-filled night in January, about 100 ladies (and two gentleman too!) danced their hearts out under the Carlyle club's funky disco ball! Thanks for your help Arlene!!! 

     Mayor Euille was one of the two gentleman who attended the event. He purchased some tickets for the silent auction, but I'm not really sure he Zumba'd. (He looked pretty good in his athletic clothes though. Thanks for the effort Mayor Euille!
Brooke and Mayor Euille

     Dave Lucchesi also came by with his wife, and I know for a fact that he did Zumba!! Dave's wife, Liz, was a major sponsor of the "Explosion." We're so glad that Liz convinced her hubby to join in the fun!! Dave was glad too. “The closest I ever came to Zumba was watching a video on YouTube before I came here,” Lucchesi said during a break in the action. "This has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience." 

Elizabeth and Dave Lucchesi at a break during the Zumba Explosion.

     And fun they had . . .  There was plenty of rhythm in the Carlyle Club that night. So sorry I couldn't join them. Like I said, I'm a spoil sport, LOL. Proceeds from the event totaled $5,740 which the RunningBrooke Fund will pass on to Alexandria's needy children and families. Now that's what I call sweat equity!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Cheat Sheet on the Reading Connection by Heather M.

      The Reading Connection (TRC) was founded in 1989 by a group of educators as a service project of the Greater Washington Reading Council. Volunteers first began reading with children in a small emergency shelter located in Arlington, Virginia. This program eventually blossomed into TRC's Read-Aloud program.  TRC incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization in 1992 and now reaches 12 shelters and transitional housing sites in Arlington, Alexandria, and Washington, D.C. The Reading Connection also provides literacy advocates trainings, reading families workshops, and the Book Club to over 10 partner agencies.

     For twenty years "the Reading Connection has been reading with kids who have no one else to read to them and giving books to kids who had none." Research has shown that reading aloud to children "is the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading." (from Becoming a Nation of Readers, 1985) 

     TRC has a mission to improve the lives of at-risk children and families by helping them create and sustain literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading, and it accomplishes its mission through four different programs:

1. The Read-Aloud Program - In the Read Aloud Program, volunteers read great books selected to support a theme like "onomatopoeia, or superheroes or cats and dogs." The kids and adults then talk about the book and work on an activity related to the book's theme. Then the best part comes - each  week, the kids pick a book for their own.

A typical TRC Read-Aloud event with lots of eager listeners!

2. The Book Club - The Book Club encourages families to read by sending new, age-appropriate books through the mail to clients of partner social service agencies. Clients chose the books they prefer from age-appropriate, language and culturally-appropriate selections. To these clients, books for their children are a luxury. Each book comes with tips for talking about the book after parents have read it with their child. The Book Club sends 800 children 4,100 books per year.

3. Reading Families Workshops - TRC holds workshops conducted in English and Spanish where moms and dads sit with their children as books are read to them. The parents get to share the experience of hearing a new story and seeing all the illustrations. After the reading, each family receives a copy of 
the book they've just heard, and three others to add to their home library.

Parents and children at a Reading Families Workshop.

4. Literacy Advocates Trainings - During these training sessions, TRC introduces the staff of partner social service agencies to the importance of reading aloud. The trainers demonstrate how the staff can model better reading habits during home visits and how the staff can further develop their literacy programs.

     Over the years, TRC's reach has grown to over 1,300 kids who receive 9,000 new books each year. TRC has a professional staff of only five, and they can only accomplish their mission with the help of 180 volunteers and the donations it receives from various individuals and businesses. In 2011, it received $16,000 in individual donations, surpassing its goal of $15,000. As part of its ongoing effort to aid Alexandria's disadvantaged families and children, the runningbrooke fund contributes  annually to the Reading Connection

Brooke presenting a check to Courtney Kissell, Executive Director of TRC

A few final photos of Brooke volunteering at TRC and some of the beautiful children at one of their Read Aloud events:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Zumba Explosion by Brooke

       Come on out and join Brooke Curran of the RunningBrooke Fund at the Carlyle Club on January 29th, 4PM - 8PM for a Zumba Explosion to benefit ACTion Alexandria, Child and Family Network Centers, Community Lodgings, Girls on the Run & The Reading Connection!

Rehoboth Beach Roundup by Brooke

Keeping warm before the Girls on the Run 5K.

Dear Friends and Family-With the holidays here, you reflect on the things which make you grateful, but sometimes search for that something larger...that bond or connection with others and the chance to make a difference. As you know, The runningbrooke Fund is all about giving our at-risk neighbors the education and life-skills needed for independence.  Since May of 2009, we(you and I) have raised and donated over $90,000.00 and helped hundreds realize their dream. You're awesome

*Thank you to ALL that have made this happen.  Each time you give, a child's life is changed. If you haven't had a chance to donate this year, here are the top five reasons to give to The runningbrooke Fund:
  1. 100% of your donation goes to 5 proven Alexandria, VA-based charities.  These charities arm our at-risk neighbors with a pre-school education/high school tutoring, job training, social services and much more.   
  2. Your gift is 100% tax deductible.  Get that much-needed end-of-the-year tax credit.  ACT for Alexandria will send a receipt for your tax purposes.
  3. While we've raised $41,000 so far this year (as of 9/30), we have 9K left to meet our 2011 goal.  Can you help?  9K equals 18,000 new books to kids that have none (no kidding).  
  4. Donate $250+ before 11:59 PM on December 31st, and receive 2 free tickets to the Zumba Explosion event-of-the-year (1/29/12 -- see side bar for event details), major recognition and some cool runningbrooke paraphernalia! 
  5. People feel happier when they give.  79% of Americans agreed that they'd rather get a gift in their honor than receive a gift they can't use.  4 in 5 Americans agree that helping someone less fortunate is part of their holiday tradition.  Make it yours too... (American Red Cross website) 
Click HERE to donate now.  Thank you, thank you.**Let's stay connected.  Join me on a run or come for a site visit and see who we are helping first hand.  Check out the website -- it's better than ever.  Follow me on Twitter (@runnerbrooke) or like my page on Facebook.

MT/Guest House
A runningbrooke grant buys toiletries for women reentering
the community.

** RunningBrooke Announcements **

1.  I'm excited to join the Allergy & Asthma Network, Mothers of Asthmatics(AANMA) Board of Directors.  AANMA is a national nonprofit patient education and advocacy organization that provides consumer-friendly information about asthma and allergies.  Many of you may remember our work together at Asthma Awareness Day on Capitol Hill last Spring.  

2.  Zumba Explosion 2012 --  a runningbrooke fundraiser.  Dance off those holiday pounds and keep your New Year's resolution!  Join Alexandria's ownrunningbrooke and five Zumba instructors from X-Factor Fitness (for personal attention and questions) for a rockin' time.

A fun-filled Sunday afternoon (NO football -- this is the weekend in between the Play-Offs and Superbowl) for everyone.  Bring your friends and learn something new.  Get the details HERE!  

*Special MC, Maureen Bunyan ABC7/WJLA-TV. 

**All proceeds benefit Alexandria charities**  

3.  Antarctica Countdown.  T minus 76 days!  The Antarctica Marathon race director emailed this to me the other day...  **"Your Antarctica adventure is less than 90 days away. Please review the following..." -- and then he said:
"You are traveling to the coldest, iciest, windiest and most remote corner of the planet and a most inhospitable location for a running event."

4. Evening in the Heart of Alexandria Video.  Thanks again Volunteer Alexandria for the honor and recognition!    

Brooke Curran, 2011 Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Awardee
Brooke Curran, 2011 Joan White Grassroots Volunteer Awardee

and now, without further ado: 

The Rehoboth Beach, DE Marathon
(12/10/11 -- state #31, marathon #42)

Footprints leading to the Atlantic Ocean - photo by Paula Jean L. from ME

Delaware is the second smallest state in the Union -- only Rhode Island is smaller -- and is the lowest lying state -- it is flat! -- with the average elevation of only 60 feet. Located in the eastern section of the Delmarva Peninsula, between the Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay, Delaware is a straight shot from the DC beltway (home base).  No planes, no layovers, and took the regular-sized toothpaste -- small pleasures make me happy.Once over the Bay Bridge, we passed through miles and miles of farmland and then mostly closed-for-the-season fruit and vegetable stands.  Delaware grows a variety of fruits and vegetables and is a U.S. pioneer in the food-canning industry. Corn, soybeans, potatoes, and hay are significant crops, and Delaware's broiler-chicken farms satisfy the consumer chicken demand for big Eastern markets.  Fishing and dairy play an important role too. 

Random DE factoids in random order:

Scenic town water tower

Factoid #1:  English ship captain Samuel Angall named the river and bay separating Delaware and New Jersey after the governor of the English Colony, Lord De La Warr.  Delaware takes it name from that river and bay and became our first state in 1787. 

Factoid #2:  The state bird is the blue hen chicken and the official state bug is ladybug. 

Factoid #3:  Since 1950, the spotlight at the annual Delmarva Chicken Festival has been a 10' (in diameter) frying pan that holds 180 gallons of oil and fries 800 chicken quarters at a time.Factoid #4:  DuPont -- maker of chemicals and pharmaceuticals -- is Delaware's second largest employer (second only the Delaware state government).

The Good

Near Rehoboth Beach, DE -- photo by Paula Jean L. from ME

Rehoboth Beach and the Marathon.  Though very quiet in December, it was easy to imagine sunburned families eating ice cream while strolling on the wooden boardwalk.  The main avenue is built and ready for the summer vacationers.  But in December, it's cold -- about 35 or 40 degrees -- and perfect marathon weather!  There were more runners than I had expected as we gathered around the bandstand for the 7 AM race start.  I looked for people whom I knew were there too -- friends from Pacers Running Stores in Alexandria, Paula from ME, Dave and his wife from MA, Jane from Alexandria, VA, and Frank from Arlington, VA.  Ken and Kath from FL rode with me after flying into Reagan National.  I didn't see anyone, then heard "Brooke!"  It was Frank -- we are friends on Facebook but have never met.  Frank is an athlete of heroic proportions whose workouts often include running with logs and/or tractor tires on his back.  Wow.  It was 26.2 miles of laughter hearing his crazy stories.  In addition to the camaraderie, it was a beautiful day for a run.  The course is scenic -- through quiet towns, along sandy wind-swept roads and through silent parkland.  At about mile 20, I connected with two of the Pacers' Running Store ladies -- one of whom was trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon and needed to run a sub 3:40.  I was supposed to run with her the whole way, but we didn't connect at the start...  I was lucky to find her and run the last five miles together. Way to qualify Heather! 

The Bad 
(that turned good) 

The Speeding Ticket.  I've been a little unlucky in this department recently but that day, the gods were smiling, and I got off with a warning! 

No description necessary.

The Ugly (no ugly, sorry...)

RunningBrooke Sponsor Highlight

Mark G. Anderson Consultants (MGAC).  Mark and his team are ready to manage the complexities of any design and construction program -- locally, nationally, internationally -- with precision, capability and focus.  They provide project management services to a diverse group of unique clients.  Ever been to the International Spy Musuem in Washington DC?  Yep, that's MGAC.

Happy holidays to you and your family -- see you in the New Year!


Near Rehoboth Beach, DE -- photo by Paula Jean L. from ME.

Back in Alexandria and with Kath and Ken from FL.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Cheat Sheets on Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC) by heather m.

     People amaze me everyday, but this really amazes me . . .

     I just sat down to write a piece about Child and Family Network Centers (CFNC), another wonderful charity which is supported by the runningbrooke Fund. I read these words in the pamphlet given to me during a recent visit, "The Child and Family Network Centers was founded by a group of mothers living in Alexandria's public housing (emphasis added) when they learned that their children were failing kindergarten and would be denied entry into first grade." How many twenty-seven year old, award-winning, charitable organizations do you know of which were started by mothers living in public housing? OK, that's the part that left me flabbergasted, but there is much more to learn about CFNC. Just so you know, I tried to find the names and pictures of these amazing women, but I haven't done so thus far. Here is their story and the story of CFNC:

     In 1984, Helena Pratt, an employee of Alexandria's Mental Health Association and a member of Immanuel Church on the Hill, established the Family Helpers Network in the Cameron Valley public housing complex in response to the concerns of the mothers mentioned above. Later that year, Ms. Pratt and 15 of the concerned mothers taught a "kindergarten prep" where they team taught participating children. In 1985, the founding mothers hired Barbara Mason as the organization's first real teacher and staff member, and she eventually became it Executive Director. By 1991, the school had 80 students and CFNC was incorporated and established its own board.

A recent photo of Barbara Mason and her husband Jerry.

     Two years after it was incorporated, CFNC expanded its program to provide Family Support Services such as job placement coaching and health services to the families of its students. By 1996, CFNC offered Adult Literacy, ESL classes. As the years went by, the preschool developed and expanded into the current CFNC of Northern Virginia. CFNC currently enrolls children in 10 classrooms spread out between 6 locations. Each of these locations provides the same high-quality preschool program and comprehensive family services. English as a Second Language(ESL) courses are only offered at its Birchmere location. ESL is taught by a wonderful woman named Eugenie Ballering.

Top Photo: Eugenie Ballering (ESL instructor) in front with ESL students behind her. 
Bottom Photo: a close up of the ESL room and some really conscientious students!!

     The other teachers at CFNC are just as 'exceptional' as Ms. Ballering. CFNC teachers complete an average of 55 hours of professional development and training which far exceeds the 16 development hours required by Virginia State Licensing standards. These teachers are committed to continuing their education and improving their credentials through developmental training and coursework. Some teachers at CFNC are actually parents of former students. Take Tonya  . . . Tonya is now a lead teacher at the Birchmere location of CFNC, and I actually met her while I visited. Tonya's daughter was enrolled in CFNC's Charles Houston Center in 2000 and she joined the Teacher Assistant Program which gives low-income parents a stipend to observe their children and to learn new redirecting strategies and parenting skills. Tonya became more involved with CFNC, and she eventually helped to obtain the funding from the City OF Alexadria's Recreation Department to keep the Charles Houston CFNC Center open until 5PM daily so that parents could finish their work days before having to pick up their children. In 2001, Tonya left her government job to accept a teaching position at CFNC. In 2008 and 2009, Tonya received the Demonstration Classroom Award from CFNC's High/Scope Educational Research Foundation for her excellence in teaching. Now that's a case of pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps if I ever saw one. Congratulations Tonya!!!

Tonya is the beautiful woman on the right wearing the green sweater.

     Currently, Margaret Patterson serves as the Executive Director of CFNC. Although CFNC currently teaches 168 children in the ten centers throughout Alexandria and Arlington, Margaret has told me that there are 130+ students on its waiting list. The cost to provide preschool to its students is approximately $10,500 per student. CFNC receives funding from the City of Alexandria, Arlington County and the state of VA, but these funds only reduce the cost per child to $6000. CFNC has to make up the difference by soliciting private donations from people like you and me. There is a distinct reason why CFNC receives less money from the government than from private sources. To put it in a nutshell, CFNC supports the working poor. CFNC serves families whose children would not qualify for the federally funded Head Start program. Head Start serves families at or below the poverty line, $22,350. CFNC will serve children and families at or below 180% of the poverty level, or families making $41,348 or less for a family of 4.

Margaret Patterson, Current Executive Director of CFNC

      Your donation to the runningbrooke Fund will help Alexandria and Arlington's working poor families. The runningbrooke Fund has donated $27,500 to CFNC to date. Helping families help themselves is a wonderful thing to do. Thanks to all the donors to the runningbrooke fund for helping CFNC to continue providing such wonderful services to people in need! Oh, and I can't forget . . . thanks to everyone at CFNC for all you do!!

Just a sampling of the smiling faces I saw at CFNC's Birchmere location:

      . . . and a little of their handiwork. Maybe we have some future architects and engineers in our midst!

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Cheat Sheet on Girls on the Run . . . by heather m.

Not too long ago, I realized that I needed to learn a little more about the five charities the RunningBrooke Fund benefits. I decided to let all of our loyal followers have a look at my "cheat sheets" so they can learn more about them too. Followers may already be acquainted with some of these charities, especially this week's, Girls on the Run. Take a peek anyway. I won't tell the teacher, and you might learn something new!

And the drumroll please . . . 

     Girls on the Run International was established by Molly Barker in Charlotte, NC in 1996, and piloted with thirteen brave girls. Participation doubled in 1997 and then almost tripled that number in 1998. In 2000, Girls on the Run International became an official 501(c)(3) organization.

Molly Barker, founder of Girls on the Run International and Hawaii Ironman Triathlete

By 2010, Girls on the Run International served 80,000 girls in over 170 cities of North America and hosted 120 end-of-season 5K events across the United States and Canada.

     Girls on the Run International has chapters all over North America and our local one covering Alexandria, VA is Girls on the Run Northern Virginia (GOTRNOVA, This is their Executive Director, Catherine Keightley:


    Catherine is a runner, writer and PR expert with 17 years of experience in marketing strategy, branding, membership and customer programs. Directing GOTR NOVA is right up her alley and her leadership is much appreciated. 

     The Typical Girls on the Run Program has sessions in the spring and fall. The program runs for 10  weeks and each group is limited to 20 girls between eight and twelve years old (studies have shown that this age of girls is still very receptive to adult influence but are beginning to feel the burden of confronting many life and relationship issues) - Think of your teenager and all the things you wish you told them before they went through puberty and it seemed that their ears blocked up (but only when a reasonable adult was around, LOL!) - Each team meets twice weekly for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, and each of these meetings focuses on a specific issue-related topic and include activities and games based on that topic. First, the coaches introduce themselves and explain the topic of the day. Girls warm up the muscles with some type of interactive activity base on the topic of the day and then discuss how the activity related to the topic. Finally, the girls perform a workout which mostly involves running laps but also integrates the topic of the day. Each lesson ends with stretching, a review of what the girls learned, a group cheer, and a snack. 
     These sessions are led by trained, volunteer female coaches who take great pleasure in mentoring and guide these girls through this fun program. All of these volunteers undergo background checks, learn the GOTR curriculum and are CPR certified. At the end of the program, the girls run a 5k event with a Buddy Runner who volunteers for the race. 
     Last year, I thought of volunteering to be a Buddy Runner, but guess what - I was too late!! They were so successful at recruiting that they didn't need me. I was pretty happy about it, because it was a VERY COLD day. On the bright side, Brooke was there, and here is the proof:

 This is Brooke and her 'Girl on the Run' !!! They made quite a stunning team, didn't they?

And, here's a particularly wonderful thing about Girls on the Run. It doesn't just help the girls who participate. Check out this BEAUTIFUL mother of a GOTR NOVA participant who has lost 135 pounds in the last year:

This beautiful woman recounted to Brooke how she had been inspired by her daughter's participation in GOTR to exercise and eat in a more healthy way. What a lovely example of the inspiration shared by the GOTR program. (Maybe they can share a little inspiration with me, LOL!)

     GOTR NOVA costs $165/girl per session. In the fall of 2010, GOTR NOVA provide over $100,000 in financial aid. By donating to the runningbrooke Fund, you will make sure that girls with financial aid will be able to participate in this wonderful program!!!! 

Girls on the Run also has many corporate sponsors who help continue the great work of this program. Thanks to all of them! :

Run, GOTR, Run!!!