We are almost a month away from the 124th Boston Marathon® and Team St. Francis House is hard at work training for the big day. In preparation for #MarathonMonday on April 20, each week we’ll be introducing one of our runners!
Today we sat down with Lauren Ward – a Massachusetts native currently living in the Big Apple who has decided to run her first marathon for Team St. Francis House!
- Start by introducing yourself – your name, where you work, where you’re from?
My name is Lauren Ward, I’m currently working in New York City as Program Coordinator at Youth Service Opportunities Project (YSOP), and as a Visitor Services Assistant at the Whitney Museum of American Art. I grew up between Dorchester and Holbrook, MA.
- What is the most challenging part of your Marathon training so far?
Being disciplined to make it happen! Balancing training with a full-time job, a part-time job, fundraising, sleeping and eating enough has definitely been most challenging – especially getting into higher mileage where runs are taking longer. I have to keep a rigid schedule to stay on track and I LOVE distractions.
- Most people would never even consider taking on a challenge like this – How & Why did you decide to run a marathon for an organization like SFH?
Running a marathon has been a goal of mine for many years. Service work with people experiencing hunger and homelessness has been an interest of mine since volunteering with Walk for Hunger in middle school and became a real passion while participating on Alternative Break trips throughout college. It was through the same leadership office in my first year of college that I volunteered, and convinced my mom to volunteer, for “finish line breakdown” at the 2013 Boston Marathon.
Among many emotions, two things became clear to me with surviving that day: I am on this earth to live for helping others, and I will one day cross that finish line as a runner. At 26 years old, I decided 2020 would be a good year to accomplish that. When a friend sent me the application for St. Francis House it was an easy decision – the mission aligns with so much of my life work and it immediately made sense to run with and raise money for an organization that is providing safe refuge and basic services to my neighbors back home.
- When did you first get into running? How did/does it make you feel?
I’ve been running since I can remember. My Nana reminds me of times, as a kid when I would run alongside her car and she would track how fast and far I could go. I ran on track teams throughout middle and high school and continued running casually as a way to clear my mind. Running gives me freedom, stress relief, makes me feel empowered, excited, and on top of this city that often becomes overwhelming.
- What part of St. Francis House’s work interests you the most?
Art Therapy interests me the most. I have used creative expression and process to work through a lot of self-discovery. I believe it’s important to have a safe space to learn about and grow yourself, like that provided by the Margaret Stewart Lindsay Art Studio.
- Is there something about SFH you wish everyone knew?
The work SFH is doing is essential. Our society often ignores what we don’t want to accept. St. Francis House takes the care to treat every individual with the same amount of respect and dignity, building folks up through the many programs and resources. A big part of this work is putting a face on the problem, for people to understand that this exists all around us, and diminish preconceived stereotypes about humans living this experience.
- What would you say to someone who is considering running their first marathon?
Do it! Think less about how much you have in front of you, more about how much you have behind and the strength you have within you.
Go Lauren! Good Luck!