Tuesday, September 29, 2009

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C.S. Lewis

Lately, I’ve been overwhelmed by my circle of friends. If you are reading this, I would consider you in that circle.

I feel as if Girls on the Run is at a tipping point…the word of us is far and wide these days. On airplanes, in the grocery store, in a restaurant, I catch site of our logo and my breath is simply, taken away. Several months ago I was driving to Jacksonville, Florida. Somewhere along I-95 a car with Georgia tags drove by me with a Girls on the Run bumper sticker on the back.

Of course, I sped up to see who was at the wheel. Do I know her? Where is she from? What’s her story…like I’d somehow be able to figure that out going 70 miles per hour down the highway…the wonder of it all.

It is quite surreal for me to see that logo crop up all over the place. There is this immediate connection I feel to whoever has proudly emblazoned that across his/her chest. While we don’t personally know each other, we know each other. We’ve experienced the same words, the same philosophy, touched the same authentic and real space we’ve come to know as the Girls on the Run experience.

This connection falls not only within our ranks, but outside of them as well. Enter stage left, Bev Lassiter. Bev is a Charlottean. She and I have walked around in similar spots for years, but never officially met. Two years ago she called the office.

“I’ve got an idea,” she was almost whispering. “I can’t share it with everyone just yet, but I’d like to sit down with you and see what you think.”

Of course, I was intrigued.

A couple of weeks later, Bev walks in for a visit at our office.

Bev is one of those “sistas” who can sport the pink, lily print and the matching hand bag, like my diva daughter Helen. Bev is petite, put-together and definitely (please note bold AND italics on that definitely!) a sparkplug.

“I’m President-Elect of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of NC and every President gets to pick her ‘Special Project.’ I want Girls on the Run to be mine.”
Not sure yet, what this meant exactly, I was intrigued.

“This means that over 6000 of our club members from across the state will be raising money for your North Carolina Girls on the Run councils. We hope to raise over $50,000 for you to distribute to those councils.”

After a moment (or many) of catching my breath and figuring out what to do with what this almost-stranger had shared with me, I started to cry.

“Bev, I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Well,” she said, “Let’s start by figuring out how we make it all happen.”

Here’s how their efforts surprised me at their annual GFWNC conference in Wrightsville Beach, NC:

(Nice expression mm? That’s Ellen Patterson on the left, me with the funny face, Bev with the glasses, wearing a wonderful Lilly dress underneath that huge cardboard check and Georgann Sapp, the rockstar responsible for organizing the junior members of the organization around this campaign!)

We are currently rounding out our first year with their efforts. Ellen Patterson, her go-to colleague has organized the campaign with the help of Georgann Sapp. The creation of shoe bags, pearl necklaces and quilts, along with fundraisers (“Women on the Walk” is one example), pennies from pockets and women just asking have raised over $30,000.

Twenty-something’s and eighty-something’s have come together around tables in communities from all across the state to support our girls. Hours of conversation, planning, crocheting, sewing, dreaming, being will bring our program to thousands of girls across North Carolina who might not otherwise have the experience. I gratefully acknowledge all of their hard work, but also wonder what they might be receiving in return. What conversations have transpired, while nimble fingers have needle-pointed pillows, or baked cookies? What laughter has been shared as they’ve told stories of their own youth? What tears have welled up when reminiscing old times, lost loves and the fears and joys of growing older?

The circles of our influence are never fully known. But I know that when I see our logo, I havean emotional response that is deep, heartfelt and real. I know that the power of this program is felt whether we are delivering it, funding it, cheering for it, participating in it, working for it, writing about it, reading about it or simply observing the logo.

Not only are our girls realizing their greatest potential but so too are all those to whom even just the word of our program reaches.

I received this email today.

Hi Molly,

I just couldn't contain my excitement and had to send a picture of the very FIRST group of Louisiana Girls on the Run!

I'm not sure why I've been reduced to tears all day...but in my gut, I know.

And, I suspect that this picture tells the tale. A vision of these girls has been in my mind since I first clicked on the white state of Louisiana on the GOTR website and realized that there was a chance to change it to a glorious shade of purplish pink. These girls have occupied my mind during all of my runs. And when I listen to what has been my inspiration song for years - 'Unwritten', they are the part of the song that goes..."reaching for something in the distance...so close you can almost taste it - release your inhibitions...feel the rain on your skin"

Last night, my 10 year old bundle of sweetness named Cary cried deep tears that I'm not used to seeing. She confided in me that she had been playing four-square at school with the boys. In her words, she was "queen" and she was winning. And then...it happened...one of those defining moments. She tripped and fell over a boy, Matt. And everyone laughed. And my little girl - who LOVES this game and has always had fun playing with the boys - told me she never wanted to play again. My oldest daughter and I both tried to console her but something was different in her soul.

And the only thing...THE ONLY THING...that gave me hope at that moment and silenced my heart was knowing that next week - she would be part of Girls on the Run.

I begin coaching next week - my daughter and a group of girls - and then another photo of joyful 'girl' perfection will exist. What will lie beneath the photo??? So many beautiful hearts just waiting for your lessons...

So...a heartfelt thank you. I have never in my life felt more connected to a purpose...so excited for a beginning and so sure of an outcome!


So to Cary, Heidi, Bev and Ellen, I thank you back. To all of you for putting yourselves out there everyday for our girls and each other, I offer you my gratitude.

Who are you grateful to be working with? Tell me about her or him at molly@girlsontherun.org.

To learn more about the General Federation of Women’s Clubs through North Carolina, please visit their website at www.gfwcnc.org. If you’d like to learn more about their organization at the national level please visit www.gfwc.org.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Molly,
    Greetings from Boulder! I loved reading some of your posts, you are amazing as always and inspiring as never before ;) Helen is gorgeous (I knew she would be...) it was so nice to see a picture of her posted. GOTR is and will always be one of the first programs out there that boosted girls so they could become strong, confident young women. You have done much good for society...everyone should be able to say that in their lifetime.
    You and GOTR are in my thoughts-
    All the best,
    Michelle Steiner