Running, charity and all that laces them together.

Running, charity and all that laces them together.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Going out in Public - the Community Lodgings' "Lights on After-school" Open House by Heather M.

     Once in a while, Brooke lets me "go out in public" on behalf of the RunningBrooke Fund. I'm kidding - she doesn't 'let me,' she kindly asks me. Sometimes she needs help and sometimes she asks me to attend an event when she can't do so. Maybe she doesn't know it, but I am always nervous. I hate to screw up - ANYTHING. But that's one of my biggest problems - I am so afraid of screwing up things, that I rarely try to do anything new. Being nervous on behalf of the RunningBrooke Fund has been a learning experience for me, and I am so thrilled when I experience some sort of success, even if it is just a little success.
     The first time Brooke took me out in public, we went to Old Town to try to sell tickets to the RunningBrooke showing of "Hairspray." She stood at one end of the farmers' market in her crazy outfit with her a posterboard describing the work of the RunningBrooke Fund. I stood at the other end of the market, conversing with the farmers, and sheepishly asking everyone who walked by, "Do you like musicals?" Heck, I wasn't asking them if they knew about Jesus (which is fine if they did), but I still felt like an idiot, and I was so scared of rejection. As one woman walked by, I piped up with my old line about musicals. I am not sure if she said she did or she didn't like them, but she did pause to speak to me. (She is a lot kinder than I am when people confront me on the street.). She listened to my nervous sales pitch, and just when I thought I had lost her, I must have mentioned Brooke's name. Her face lit up as she told me she was an old friend of Brooke's, and I sent her on over to her 'old friend' standing across the way in her crazy dress and wig in the 100 degree heat. The best part is . . . a few weeks later, I saw her at the performance. I told her how thankful I was that she stopped to listen to my awkward pitch and that I was SO HAPPY that she came. Baby steps, but those few were worth it.

     Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going out in public for the RunningBrooke Fund and attending the "Lights on Afterschool" Open House at Community Lodgings. Community Lodgings is one of the five local charities which the RunningBrooke Fund helps support. Yesterday's festivities highlighted the organization's afterschool programs for homeless and low income students, but Community Lodgings also has an Adult Education Program, a Low Income Housing Program, and a Transitional Housing Program which provides housing and support services for up to 14 otherwise homeless families.
     As I walked around the stations they had set up, I was a bit nervous, but the children were great. I was very impressed with the LeapTrack Program and the help students were given with their homework and reading.

Becca Waltrip, the Education Coordinator, explained how these centers were coordinated with the material the students covered in school. She does such an amazing job with the little resources she has. Like most charitable organizations, Community Lodgings has had to make staff cutbacks in recent years, and the remaining staff has to do more with less, and from what I saw, they do it with smiles on their faces. They make such an impact on these students lives, and some of the students who have "graduated" or moved away, even come back to visit when they are in the area. The older girl sitting at the corner of the table in the top picture is a former student in the after school program who now attends 11th grade in another city. I thought it was nice that she took the time to stop by and help some other children. She was a wonderful young lady, very bright, well-spoken and kind, a graduate to be proud of!
     Meeting this beautiful young lady and her brothers and hearing their story was kind of like the moment I saw Brooke's old friend at the "Hairspray" event. It served as a little bit of affirmation that what I was doing was right and even slightly successful. Woohee, more baby steps and in the right direction too!! It's all about them, and that's what I have to remember each time I go 'out in public' for the RunningBrooke Fund. Thanks to all our supporters who help the RunningBrooke Fund help others!

PS: I was having trouble weaving a few details in my blog, but I wanted to include the pictures below and let you know what was going on in them.

In the above picture, the adult students were playing a simple game which allowed them to use some simple English vocabulary they just learned. I talked to their teacher and we discussed how useful it is to do "regular things" in another language you are learning. Activities like playing games and cooking really help students to utilize new vocabulary without having to memorize little scripts like many of us did in high school. (at least I did, lol!) 

Mayor Euille spoke at the Open House and praised the Center for the work they do. He recalled how refreshing it was to see a family walking down the street, each of them carrying a book and reading while they walked a long. He remarked that we(and places like Community Lodgings) must be "doing something right" in Alexandria.

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