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How homeless teens motivated me to run this marathon

To: homeless youth at the Covenant House New Jersey

From: Jacque (As told to Lauren Brill)

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To the kids at Covenant House New Jersey, 

As many of you know, I am a development manager at Covenant House, New Jersey, a shelter for homeless youth. I help share our mission to donors and empower many of you to share your stories.  Unfortunately, right now I don’t get to physically be around you as much as I was before the pandemic, but I want you all to know how much you still inspire me. 

Each one of you is so incredibly strong.

Jacque trained for a marathon, while also balancing being a new mom to a one-year-old boy, Declan.

For example, one of your peers that I have worked with is a 20-year-old young woman with a two-year-old daughter. She was in and out of different homes throughout her childhood before getting adopted, where she experienced abuse. Kicked out of her house, she found herself homeless. 

While homeless, she graduated high school at the top of her class. Since coming to Covenant House in the last year, she got her certification in phlebotomy. She landed a job with Audible, which is an Amazon-owned company. Also, she moved out of Covenant House into an apartment – all while also taking care of her baby.

When explaining her mindset, she said, “I will make no excuses for myself. I wake up in the morning and I do what I have to do. I just have to keep going.”

I’m blown away by her resilience, as I am with so many of you. That’s why on Friday, I see it as a privilege and a blessing to be able to run the New York City Marathon in your honor. 

I see it as a privilege and a blessing to be able to run the New York City Marathon in your honor. 

I started running marathons five years ago. Last year, I couldn’t run the New York City Marathon because my son, Declan, was born just a few weeks earlier. And this year, they canceled the New York City Marathon. But I refuse to let that stop me, especially right now. 

Usually, we can host events to raise money for the services we provide you, but because of the pandemic, this year, we had to cancel many of our fundraisers.

Jacque is running to raise money for homeless youth.

Across New Jersey, we have seven different facilities that give shelter to a total of 220 of you each night. We provide a range of services, from therapy to financial literacy to essential love and support. Most of you are between the ages of 18-22 and come to us for various reasons, including aging out of foster care, experiencing domestic violence or being a victim of human sex trafficking. 

I know how important these programs are for all of you. One time we got a grant for equine therapy. We brought kids up to a horse stable in Bergen County. This one boy, who struggled to open up to our staff, walked straight up to a horse, put his head against the horse’s nose and talked to this horse for half an hour. 

After the session was over, I asked him if he would tell me a little bit about his conversation. 

He said, “The horse doesn’t know my past and he’s not judging me. He just let me talk and be me.”

t was a powerful moment and spoke to the impact our programs have on many of you. That is why, even though I can’t run the typical New York City Marathon, I am going to run 131 times around the block of one of our shelters, which is the equivalent to a full 26.2-mile marathon. I hope that in doing so, I can help raise $5,000 for all of you.

It won’t be your typical marathon. There won’t be thousands of fans cheering me on or hundreds of runners beside me. Also, there is a cold front coming in and it might be sleeting. Mentally, this marathon will be very tough to run.

However, I want you to know that I will be thinking about all of you in the moments where I start to feel exhausted or uncomfortable. And just like the woman I told you about, I will keep going. If you guys are all able to live your lives without making excuses, then I sure can too.

This run is for you,

Jacque
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