BERLIN — Runners looking to help area youth are being invited to sign up for team GOWOYO and attend a meet and greet with Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) next week.
“We want to show supporters who they’re helping,” said WYFCS Director of Development and Donor Relations Stefanie Gordy.
WYFCS has a longstanding involvement with the Ocean City Half-Marathon and the 5K event, sponsoring a team to run, jog, or walk the event every year. Members of GOWOYO attempt to raise money from the community that will then be donated into WYFCS programs.
A non-profit organization founded in 1975, WYFCS provides an array of services to the county, including youth counseling, SAGES mentoring for girls, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused or neglected children caught in the court system and several other programs.
Recently, they also began a youth club partnership with the Town of Berlin that includes free after-school programs and a summer camp. Though it only began last spring, Berlin has already decided to renew funding for the initiative through at least June 2013.
While GOWOYO has raised significant donations in the past, this year Gordy said that WYFCS hopes to increase participation, both from runners and donors, by giving them a clear picture on how their efforts will help at risk children in the county.
“It’s really important that [runners] meet some of the people working in the field,” she said.
So for the first time ever, sign up for team GOWOYO will be at 124 North Main St., WYFCS’ headquarters in Berlin, from 6-8 p.m. on Feb. 29.
Members of staff will be on hand to talk to potential team members about the organization, answer questions about how donations will be used and outline WYFCS’ role in the community.
“I don’t want it to be too formal … the whole goal is to make a connection,” said Gordy.
During the meet and greet, runners will also have the chance to learn some interesting ways to raise money through donations.
“This year some people are getting more creative,” said Gordy.
Traditionally, collecting donations for a marathon is as simple as convincing friends and family to sponsor a runner. However, WYFCS plans on working with team members to brainstorm less conventional ways to get the community’s attention. One possible method Gordy mentioned would be to throw a runner’s party and ask for guests to bring donations instead of food and beverages.
“We need to give runners the tools to raise money,” Gordy said.
Last year, team GOWOYO had 20 registered runners take part in the Ocean City Half-Marathon and 5K. This year, it hopes to match or surpass that number. Even if they get the same or even less runners, Gordy is optimistic that WYFCS can reach the $10,000 goal through creative donation gathering. Still, she is aiming for a large turnout next Wednesday, since it will be an opportunity for members of the community to learn about WYFCS.
Besides the altruistic aspect of running for team GOWOYO, members who take the pledge to raise donations for WYFCS for the marathon will receive 20 percent off of their registration fee.
The event itself will take place on Saturday, April 28 in Ocean City. Runners can choose between a 5K and 13.2 mile half-marathon. Both start at the Boardwalk, with the half-marathon extending to Assateague State Park.
For more information on how to join team GOWOYO or to learn about WYFCS, contact Gordy at 410-641-4598 or email email@example.com