A run around a beautiful reservoir surrounded by trees is an awesome way to enjoy the Boston Summer. That is exactly what Boston Road Runners (BRR) and Matahari Women Workers’ Center, two Impact Hub Boston-based organizations, envisioned when they partnered up to do a 5K run. The run, which took place August 6, 2016, around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir behind the Reilly Memorial Rink was a 3.1-mile double loop on a USATF Certified & Sanctioned Course.
A collaboration between two organizations at Impact Hub was a great way to expand the outreach of each, and also to find new ways to work towards common interests within their respective missions. I had a chance to sit down with Anthony Loui of BRR and Monique Nguyen of Matahari to talk about the event and the collaboration.
Q: Why did you form the collaboration for the event? What were the goals?
Anthony: It was the first 5K together. We have been thinking about an event like this for an year. Among our membership, there are people who are running enthusiasts.
Monique: Most of our work is pretty serious and this was a setting where people and families could come and have fun. A little known fact is that the first Sunday of every year is National Family Day. So, we named the event Matahari Family Day to provide a platform for people from different groups and communities to come together. Everyone was welcome – runners, walkers, those with children, and in wheelchairs.
The combined goals of the event were to organize an event that was fun, logistically simple to coordinate, and easy for people to attend. It also acted as a platform where one of the members, whose husband is facing deportation, could feel safe to share her story. It became a safe space where families can support each other and form lasting friendships. Matahari Women Workers’ Center received all proceeds from this race.
Another goal was to encourage physical activity as a lifestyle for the membership. Women in the Matahari membership are experiencing health and lifestyle changes because of the change in diet and the event was a way to incorporate a ‘healthy lifestyle’ message.
Q: What were the logistics of the collaboration – experience, time dedication, and location choice?
Anthony: I have raced there before and that helped to coordinate all the logistics. Accessibility by T was another key factor – there are three Green Line and two bus stops [near the event venue]. There are restrooms onsite and access was included in the staffing fee. There was a good location to hold a picnic. We arranged for pizza, sandwiches, chips, and water for an after-event picnic.
Q: How many people participated, was it a success as an event, were the goals of each respective organization met?
Monique: Altogether 65 participants, including 2-3 children. Of the participants, 80% were members of Matahari, 10% members of BRR, and 10% who heard of the event though word-of-mouth. The event was advertised on Boston Events calendar and at local cafes, neighborhoods, and parks and also shared through Matahari’s neighbor-to-neighbor teams. The promotion and planning started two months ahead of the event.
Anthony: Yes, the event was a success for a first-time collaboration and both our organizations gained visibility and we hope for future collaborations.
Q: Will you be doing future events together? If so, how regularly?
Anthony: Yes. Annually, likely at the same location. We are assessing possibilities. This collaboration happened because we had a connection and thought it would be a good idea. We wanted to do it at the end of last year and BRR applied for 501 3c status, which was obtained only this year. I am self-funding the organization now and hope to have BRR fully funded by 2018.
Q: Are you open to future collaborations with other organizations?
Anthony: Yes, BRR welcomes partnering with other organizations at Impact Hub and outside to do similar events. I have run 6 world marathons and dozens of races and have organized 20+ race events in the Boston area will act as the event consultant and handle all logistics, except the promotion. I will also help to market the event. An ideal event will have a target of 200-500 participants, with an average of 300 participants to have a reasonable benefit to the partnering organization.
Monique: Keeping an open mind is important. Collaboration is like a muscle that needs to be worked out. The more you work with others and be open to creative tensions, whenever you get over that, surprises come and the rewards outweigh the apprehensions. We have a collaboration problem in the community because of the way social entrepreneurial programs work. You have to go where that flexibility is available.
One of the 5K runners was our very own Leonela Gonzales – cofounder of E4L Network and an avid marathon runner – who joined the race along with her husband Kevin Fogarty, another Impact Hubber. I had a chance to sit down with Leonela to speak about her experience at the Run.
Q: What motivated you to join the 5K Run?
Leonela: I chatted with Monique and she said that she was doing a race to support the nannies who were getting $4 [an hour] as a wage. I couldn’t believe it and I connect with the injustice that is happening and I see that her organization has been very effective in going to the congress to pass the law to gain a fair wage. I believe you have to get to know more people where they are to help. I like to educate people and empower. I also wanted to see this as an opportunity to collaborate to provide volunteer work and teach English and Spanish. It was also an opportunity to introduce Komera to Matahari. I see the opportunity for collaboration and to work together.
Leonela continued: Monique’s story made me think of the possibilities in America and how people take ownership and do something about injustices. The power of citizenship is in action here. I had a friend from Venezuela, Patricia Garcia, who is a mother of three visiting with her family at that time. She and I used to run marathons back in Venezuela. I wanted to show her possibilities to solve some of the problems in Venezuela through collaboration. We can do more as runners. This friend participated along with her husband and daughter and she won the race! She got a $25 gift certificate to Marathon Sports and used it to buy sports items that she won’t get back in Venezuela.
About the Partnering Organizations
Boston Road Runners is a non-profit athletic and community organization committed to promoting running as a healthy activity in our communities. Boston Road Runners (BRR) foster and support the running community in Greater Boston through team races, clinics, training programs, fitness challenges, and community events. BRR believes that running is a way of life.
Matahari Women Workers’ Center is a Boston-based organization of domestic workers, other women workers, and their families who come together to put an end to gender-based violence and exploitation. Founded in 2002, Matahari is a leading force in advancing the rights of domestic workers, immigrant families, and survivors of violence and exploitation.