It’s not where you start, it’s where you end up.

With my end in sight next Sunday, March 19, 2017, I can’t help but reflect warmly on where the last 10 weeks have brought me.  As you may recall from a previous post, when I started on this path, it was merely out of chance.  My number was picked in a lottery that I was not expecting to win.  I was seemingly not in distance running shape and I was having lots of trepidation because having been down this path previously, I know what it takes to get there.

When people ask me why I run long distances, I almost don’t know how to answer.  On paper, it just doesn’t make sense for anyone to ever freely elect to run.  It’s hard.  It hurts.  It’s time consuming.  In cave-man days, running was saved for hunting or being hunted.  The concept of recreational running was so foreign it would just have been considered crazy.

Fast forward a few thousand years. I and about 20,000 others will be engaging in this chaos in T minus one week.  So, how do I sum up all of this pavement pounding?  With mixed emotions, of course. With any journey, there are some pieces that made me uncomfortable and the unknown is unsettlingly, but I had to and still continue preserve.  There have been several hurtles that I’ve had to try to jump over, move around and sometimes just trip over.  It hasn’t been easy, but no matter what occurred, I just tried to keep on looking forward.  Even when it got uncertain, I tried taking the little leaps of faith and relying on what I knew to get me through- the baby steps.  This has been my training.

The journey has also brought me an immense amount of joy.  I’ve seen my own body transform throughout the process.  I’m now able to run longer, faster and I’m stronger.  My training has carried over into other parts of my life too as having something positive and worthwhile to focus on, often does.

It is amazing to me how many parallels I can find with my training journey as with the journey of many of our SPCDC constituents.  They too experience some challenges in getting to their end goal of being about to be self-sufficient.  When clients walk through our door, they have had a lifetime of uncertainties and obstacles- disjointed family ties, addiction, previous incarceration, loss, lack of education, employment or shelter, just to name a few.  They are going through a hard time and they need a little boost.  They need a place to stay, a meal, some direction or just an ear.  They have been products of many systems that have continued to fail them and then they come to us broken and without the proper “training” they need to be able to accomplish their own goals.

Our amazing SPCDC staff is able to meet these folks where they are and help them to get where they want to go.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not magic and it certainly is not easy.  My fellow colleagues spend countless hours giving people the skills that they need for a hand up, not a hand out.  Much like running distances, these great transformations take time.  There are times where we all feel a little deflated in the process.  Bumps happen along the way, but we ride them out and we don’t give up because we won’t.

It is no secret that I love what I do.  I’m sure that if you know anything about me, this will not come as any surprise.  I feel truly honored and blessed to be among the team that helps to make sure that 6,000+ individuals in Paterson and greater Passaic receive invaluable services that help them live better.  In the past 4 years, I’ve witnessed some amazing moments that have showed me that doing a little something for someone while giving them the skills to make sure they will be able to overcome their circumstances can have a major payoff, not only for the individual but for their families and greater community.

The SPCDC gives to folks in the same way that running gives to me.  Having their needs met, they can have a way to clear their mind and reinvent themselves.  They are given a fresh start and a new perspective on life.  They are given some new tools to help them cope with reality.  They are given the training that they need to make the life that they want for themselves and their families.  We all have a story of how we started and although this is an invaluable piece of our journey, we all have a chance to change how we finish.

I thank you all for continuing to follow my journey and support me.  A special shout out goes out to my amazing in-laws Alice and Tom Palmer for your donation in support of this race.

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