Why Running and Volunteering Go Hand-in-HandAs runners, we are routinely putting ourselves out in the community in a way that isn't that typical these days. We hit the streets routinely, traversing our neighborhoods and our cities on foot while many people are whizzing by in their cars, never really taking it all in.
We also participate in races that often wind through downtown, historic districts, large parks and other areas that host cities like to showcase. Through our running we can see the best and the worst our communities have to offer.
We get to see our parks at their best with freshly mowed lawns, blooming flowers, bubbling fountains and clean paths. We have races that take us past beautiful museums, bustling waterfronts, sprawling universities and all the other wonderful sights there are to be seen in any given area. When I see these things in their glory, it makes me appreciate them even more and makes me want to keep them that way. I want to be a supporter of these parks and museums and schools, because I both use them as a resident of our City and I feel pride when they are showcased for others to see. I know they make my city a better place to live.
The flipside of this is that we also see some things that other people in the community don't see because they're not on the ground daily like we are. That dog that is always on a chain, the local school with broken windows or broken play equipment, the kids who have nowhere to go after school, the stop sign near the park where you run that people blow through on a regular basis. We see all those things.
So what does this mean? To me it means that runners are uniquely positioned to identify the best things about their community that they want to ensure remain and the things that could be made better with change.
Runners are doers. They are the people who have a focused goal and just get up and get on with it, despite what is going on in their life. Runners are needed in their community to bring this focus to the issues that need it most because runners always find a way.
I'm sure you've often seen the hashtag #ifeverybodyran. This would be an amazing thing to achieve, to have everyone out there working toward a common goal. I also think that #whatifeveryrunnervolunteered would be a an equally amazing thing. To give credit I think that MANY runners already do volunteer in their community, but if you haven't because you don't know what to do, consider the following:
Volunteer as a coach with Girls on the Run or start a site at your local school
Start a running buddies program at a local animal rescue or shelter (our largest rescue Stray Rescue of St. Louis does this where volunteers run with shelter dogs in conjunction for training for races!)
Volunteer at a race
Sign up to help clean up at your local park
Conduct neighborhood safety meetings
Ask your local school if they need volunteers for after-school activities (especially focusing on health and fitness)
The options are endless! Thanks for reading
How do you volunteer?