Although she doesn’t love to run, Cara* has to admit—it’s been a part of changing her life for the better.
The upcoming Fellowship 5 K will be her third in a row. The first year, “I was shy and insecure,” but managed to run it with her son (he’s the real runner in the family, she says.)
The following year, she not only ran the 5K but led a team of single moms (and kids, including her son). She went from having an overdrawn checking account and a huge debt to teaching other people how to budget and having $30,000 in the bank.
She plans to lead a team for this year’s 5K as well. She says that her transformation from timid mom to team leader was brought about not by running (although she was proud of the accomplishment of finishing the race), but by the Fellowship program.
“Frankly, I hate running,” she laughs, although she loves doing anything with her son and has begun training with him for this year’s race.
“The change in me? That came from being in Fellowship Housing. I began to believe in myself. My confidence got better. The staff at Fellowship are constantly cheerleaders. They would tell me ‘you’re doing great.’ I learned so much.” Having people in her corner who not only encouraged her but also taught her practical skills transformed her from insecure to confident, Cara says.
“I am not the same person I was. They gave me the tools to be stronger. Look at all this I’ve done,” she says.
Cara, a mom of four, says learning to budget gave her confidence in other areas of life. It allowed her children to be able to play sports (that’s in her budget) and have a stable home. So much has changed. (For a detailed account of what our moms do in the program, read What it Means to Be a Fellowship Mom post.)
“When I came into the program I was somewhere around $5000 to $7000 in debt. I had negative $200 in my checking account—it was overdrawn,” she says. “Today, I’m debt free and I’ve saved $30,000.”
Being in Fellowship Housing (she graduated last May) “boosted my confidence,” she says. “I’m now able to teach other people how to budget, how to reduce their debt. I’m a teacher at an alternative school, and I have had the opportunity to teach some of my colleagues how to budget, how to call creditors and work things out with them, negotiate. We’d sit down after school and I’d teach them how to do it. Four of my staff are now out of debt because of that.”
The running is “great bonding with my son,” who is 12. Last year, they decided to put their own team together. “I threw it up on Facebook, inviting people to run with us or donate.” To her surprise, she soon had a team of moms and kids.
“My son was the driving force behind it. He loves running. Track is the one thing he’s in and loves. The team was a mix of friends, other moms, family.”
“Running made us closer,” she says of her relationship with her son, as did the program at Fellowship which provided stability and structure for her family. “I hate running, but he knows I will do it for him. We get out and run together, and that’s great.”
Her advice to other moms who are in that “shy and insecure” place she was when she first started?
“Let the program work for you,” she says, “don’t give up. It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it.”
*not her real name.
To register for this year’s 5K, click here.