I need to get out more.
I came to that conclusion this morning at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation. The occasion marked a chance for the Foundation to look back — at the more than 440 grants totaling $67 million that the Foundation has given health-related non-profits since its inception in 2000 — and to look ahead — with the granting of another $1 million to 10 non-profits, ranging from the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and N.C. Association of Free Clinics to Access East and FOGGNC (Friend of GetGoingNC) Be Active North Carolina.
It was also an opportunity for me to look around and catch up on the latest news from a host of folks. Folks such as …
… Jodi Hubble of Be Active North Carolina.
“Did I tell you I’ve left Be Active?” Jodi said, effectively killing my first question: “So what will Be Active do with its newfound grant money?”
Jodi told me she’d moved over to Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Triangle affiliate as Development Director. I was about to comment on Komen’s phenomenal success, specifically with its local 5K Race for the Cure, when she trumped me again.
“We’re looking to add another race,” she said. “Our race here has become so big. We’re at about 25,000 now.”
A second race, she said, would be added in Eastern North Carolina, likely in one of the few communities big enough to sponsor such an event: New Bern, Greenville or Wilmington. “We’ be the first affiliate to have two races,” Jodi said.
Since its inception in 1982, the Dallas-based non-profit has raised $1.5 billion in the battle against breast cancer. There are now 140 races annually attracting 1.6 million runners and walkers. Pink used to be associated with Mary Kay (another Dallas institution); today, Komen has a lock on the color, which shows up on everything from dainty ribbons on babies to the shoes of NFL players.
Jodi is an appropriate match for helping expand the local Komen running franchise: in September, she completed her first half marathon, the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half.
More on the new Eastern N.C. Komen Race as it develops.
* * *
While I was chatting with Jodi, Nell Barnes came up. I consider Nell my boss: She’s the Executive Director of Learning Together, the best non-profit, five-star, developmental day care center going. I say that with bias: my daughter and step-daughter both attended Learning Together and I serve on the Board of Trustees as secretary. Nell is Learning Together, an organization that had an especially profound impact on my daughter. Thus, I will do whatever Nell asks. This morning, however, she acted mostly as a conduit, introducing me to Juliellen Simpson-Vos, the new Executive Director of Girls on the Run (and, coincidentally, the wife of another of my bosses, Mark Simpson-Vos, my book editor at UNC Press).
During my final days at The News & Observer (sounds ominously Nixonian), I wrote about Girls on the Run, a Charlotte-based non-profit that operates running programs for girls 8-12. The girls meet with a coach a couple times a week over a 12-week period; the program culminates with the girls (and hopefully their families) running a 5K. Actually, running is more of a vehicle for delivering confidence and a healthy self-image to girls of an impressionable age. The local GOTR affiliate was launched in 2001 with 20 girls on board; today, there are 29 GOTR programs throughout the Triangle serving more than 700 girls.
Speaking from self-interest (that step-daughter who attended Learning Together is now a 7th-grade runner), I asked Juliellen if GOTR had thought about a program for middle school girls. “Actually,” she said, “there is a program that’s offered called Girls on Track. So far, it’s met with mixed reviews.”
Mixed, she explained, because middle-school is a funny age. Girls that age, she said, feel like they’ve aged out of organized groups, like Girl Scouts. “But they really need that organization.” To date, Juliellen said Girls on Track hasn’t been offered in the Triangle. However, she said her group is discussing such a program with the local YWCA.
More on this as news develops as well.
* * *
I felt like a remora to Nell’s shark, for not long after introducing me to Juliellen she introduced me to Wayne Marshall. From 2000-2006, Marshall chaired the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board. I was all set to pick Marshall’s mind but before I could speak he began freely sharing his experience. He told me stories about plans for parks that never came to be (the master plan for Millbrook Exchange Park called for a train similar to the one at Pullen Park; as of today, the park remains trainless) and parks that haven’t yet come to be. That brought up Forest Ridge Park, and that conjured an uncharacteristic frown.
“My wife and I were hiking there this weekend,” Marshall said. “The color, the beauty, what a terrible thing to deprive the people of Raleigh.”
Earlier in the decade, there was considerable excitement in local rec circles when plans for Forest Ridge, on a 586-acre peninsula on Falls Lake, were announced. The master plan released on July 11, 2006, called for miles of hiking and mountain bike trail, an adventure education center, ropes course, lakeside center, multi-use activity areas and an adventure education overnight lodge. That was in 2006: Today, four and a half years later, nothing has happened at Forest Ridge. What’s the deal? I asked.
“I have to go to New Orleans now,” Marshall announced. “When I get back, we’ll go out there for a hike and tell you about it.”
I’ll get back to you on this one as well.
Photo: Official words are spoken at today’s 10th birthday celebration for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, held at Marbles in downtown Raleigh.