A first-time race director doing good things through racing.
By Alix Shutello
Volunteer Relations Coordinator and veteran runner, Lauren Decot, spends a lot of her time coordinating volunteers for the DC chapter of Vibha, a international organization whose purpose is to help the poor and underpriviledged children of India lead better lives. The organization, with numerous offices around the United States, works to help orphans and other disadvantaged children escape lives of slavery and servitutde and/or improve educational opportunites for these kids. Decot got involved with the organization in 2007 after a friend invited her to run in the Vibha Dream Mile 5k. Since then, she has been involved in an effort to give these children a better life.
Her job as Volunteer Relations Coordinator has been to stay in constant communication with our volunteers through emails and phone calls keeping them engaged and informed regarding what is happening at the DC chapter.
“I ensure we have enough volunteers at our various events throughout the year and actively recruit new volunteers to our action center,” she said.
Tackling the Title of Race Coordinator
But when she was asked to be the race coordinator for the 6th annual Vibha Dream Mile 5k, she hesitated. Decot had doubts about her abilities to organize the race and was concerned about the time commitment involved, given the extent of her other duties. Once she signed on, however, she never looked back.
“Despite these initial self-doubts…the experience has been more rewarding than I could have ever thought possible,” she said.
The race, held to raise money for Sikshana, a school in India that provides scholarships to underpriviledged children, was more successful that Decot could have imagined. Not only were there twice as many runners as last year (attendance grew from 103 to 215 race participants), but the event raised $7,000; an amount that can provide 85 children with scholarships.
Decot will be the first to tell you she’s proud of what she accomplished and there was never a moment in the day when there wasn’t a huge smile on her face.
“I have learned so much about myself – about my ability to inspire others to participate in the planning, about my project and time management skills and most importantly about my priorities.”
- Vibha has been supporting Sikshana based on a project evaluation done by volunteers in 2006. Funds are disbursed annually based on performance and the annual budget submitted by the project.
- The scholarship component is an item which was included in Sikshana’s budget for 2010.
- Sikshana has been dramatically changing the public education system in Karnataka by working with the teachers, other non-profits, the government and the community by focusing on the core problems affecting the children.
- Sikshana’s influence has grown from a few schools to 35 within the Kanakapura district. In 2010, their goal is to bring in all of the schools in the district (135) to adopt their model for teaching and quality assurance (Phase III). The state has 48,000 primary schools and the state government has identified Sikshana as a core partner.
- Vibha has committed an addition $150,000 over the next three years towards the Phase III expansion of Sikshana which targets the remaining 100 schools in the Kanakapura block, which will benefit about 12,000 children.
Read more about the school at http://www.sikshana.org/.
Vibha has been in existence since 1991 with 15 action centers located across the country. The DC chapter hosts various types of events throughout the year in addition to the Dream Mile including a Spelling Bee, Indian dance concerts, and bowl-a-thon’s to name a few. One of the organization’s biggest goals in 2010 is to increase our volunteer base.
Thank you Sponsors!
The race was sponsored by Road Runner Sports, Potomac River Running, Honest Tea, Pirate Booty, and IndAroma Bakery and Cafe.
View blog post on the author’s experience at http://tighthams.wordpress.com/category/races/