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Courtney Crabtee: Good communities don’t just happen

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BY COURTNEY CRABTREE

As I wandered around the Capitol Market for the Mac ‘N’ Cheese Cookoff held in early April as a fundraiser for the Childhood Language Center, I couldn’t help but be in awe.

Not only had an organization thought out of the box to come up with a neat idea for a fundraiser, but our small city’s residents had come out en masse to support it.

Good communities don’t just happen, they are made. As traditional funding sources have been drying up, groups large and small have provided amazing and fun opportunities for Charleston residents.

Some events, like the Clay Center Carnivale, Girls Night Out for the YWCA and the myriad of hospital galas, are huge and offer an all-inclusive evening of entertainment. Other ones are smaller and more budget friendly, like the myriad of 5 kilometer runs and the bowl-athons groups like Big Brothers Big Sisters put on.

There are so many events like this going on that entire blogs have started, like Charming Charleston, just to let everyone in town know what is going on.

Organizing these events is not easy, but these fundraisers provide great results. Capitol High’s Band on the Run 5k has provided countless students with musical instruments who may not have been able to afford them. The Jingle Bell run-in provided needed funds for rheumatoid arthritis research.

There are countless examples where the community has made a large cumulative difference with their small individual donations.

I have been able to see these benefits firsthand as a coach and vice chair for an organization called Girls on the Run. GOTR is an innovative 12-week program which uses training for a 5k as a means to teach essential life skills to girls in 3rd through 5th grades.

The girls meet twice a week for lessons on positive vs. negative talk, bullying and cliques and at the end complete a 5k run – something many of them never thought possible at the beginning of the program.

Girls on the Run of Southern West Virginia is now in its second season here in Charleston at Ruffner Elementary. The results have been nothing short of amazing.

From our first program at Chamberlain Elementary this fall we were told by faculty that the cliques and bullying went down in the hallways across the board, not just with the girls in the program. One student told us she ‘never knew what she was capable of.’

I will end with a personal story. At the Mac “N” Cheese Cookoff, I ran into my running buddy from our fall season, Ashlynn. She had just completed another 5k and set a personal record doing it. She will also be joining us for our Twilight Tuesday race.

Seeing what I had been a part of, starting what will hopefully be a lifelong love of exercise in a young girl was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

I encourage others to join Girls on the Run and take your evening stroll or jog through the beautiful streets of Kanawha City on Tuesday, April 22 beginning at 6:30 p.m. (registration begins at 5:30). Particiation by many who care about children can help our organization bring this program to another school in the fall.

It’s proof positive of the good things that can come to a small city when caring people get involved and act.

Courtney Crabtree is an advisory board member for Girls on the Run, Southern West Virginia.


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