Tomorrow morning I'll be up bright and early to run in the Nature's Bin 5K in Lakewood, Ohio. It'll be my fourth 5K, which is crazy, and hopefully the weather will hold out. My parents can't make it to this one as they are visiting Sissy and her fiance, so if any of y'all wanna come hang out and be my cheerleaders it would be appreciated!
Next month I'm also running in the Next Step Run for Shelter 5K at Edgewater Park. It's unique in that it comes with a fundraising aspect that benefits the LMM Next Step program. Fundraising is new to me but the LMM Next Step program is a very important Cleveland resource. Assisting both men and women, "Next Step provides older youth who are without a home or a stable living environment with shelter care and independent living. Next Step ensures that youth who are hurting and forgotten do not fall through the cracks and miss out on services they so desperately need. In addition to meeting the basic needs of housing, food and clothing, these gender-specific services also include counseling, independent-living skills and job placement."
I have a pretty swanky position as an academic librarian, but my first professional job out of grad school was at an all-male minimum security prison. I was the sole librarian, which meant it was just me in a room with, like, thirty or forty inmates. With it being minimum security, I wasn't dealing with hardened criminals but those in for substance abuse related problems, like drunk driving and drugs. The drug offenders were so young it was heartbreaking. I'm talking guys barely out of high-school, if they graduated at all, and the fact is that most of them were there because they had just made really stupid decisions because they felt they had no other options. Drug dealing is a difficult cycle to break, for no other reason than they know it's the easiest way to make some mad cash. We did what we could at the prison to work on successful reentry, but many drug dealers end up repeat offenders. It becomes a lifestyle and the only one they know. They just don't have the resources to function any other way and trying to change that behavior after they've been incarcerated won't be enough. The key is to get them help before they end up in a desperate situation.
As such, I really want to be able to raise money for an organization like Next Step and set up a fundraising page so y'all can donate, if you so choose. There is, of course, absolutely no pressure and if you can't at this time, there is a link in my sidebar if you want to donate later. But if you do decide to donate, I promise you'll be helping out a great local Cleveland organization and you'll get a lovely handwritten Thank You card from me. Oh yeah, my mom raised me up right.
Love from the ashes,