Toss a rock into a pond.
Watch the ensuing ripples.
Run a marathon.
Watch the beads of sweat fall to the pavement.
There are ripples of another kind.
“At Samaritas, we wanted to be part of the marathon in a significant way. Our mantra is to be the rock that starts the ripple. When you drop a rock in water, you don’t know how deep it goes or how far the ripples go,” said Kelli Dobner, the chief advancement officer at Samaritas.
The folks from Samaritas, one of the state’s largest faith-based nonprofits, have been sending ripples of positive change into Michigan communities since 1934. They are getting involved in marathons on both sides of the state today.
The Detroit Free Press/Chemical Bank Marathon also features a half-marathon, a marathon relay, a disabilities division and a mile run.
The Grand Rapids Marathon not only has the 26.2 race, but also a half-marathon and a marathon relay.
At least 45 people from Samaritas will be involved in the marathons.
“Why marathons?” echoed Dobner. “It helps get our message out. Everybody will be spreading the word as ambassadors. They’ll be telling friends why they are running. They will be telling co-workers why they are running.”
Samaritas serves people of all ages and backgrounds including providing resettlement services for new Americans, adoption and foster care, and at-home services, and residential communities for seniors and persons with disabilities.
Next month is national adoption awareness month, and Samaritas is one of the largest providers of adoptions in Michigan.
It was just several years ago when a pair of four-year-old twins came into the group’s foster care system. Mom had been murdered. Dad was a suspect. Even though they twins were four, their verbal skills were limited.
“They could barely talk,” said Dobner. “They had a very rough first four years, but the foster parents taught them speech. The foster parents got them in school. The foster parents were just crazy about those kids,” continued Dobner.
Eventually, it became time to drop the word “foster.” They are now simply parents. They adopted the twins.
Everybody deserves a chance. Everybody deserves a helping hand. They might be four-year-old twins. It might be an 80-year-old widow who is adamant about staying in her house. It might be a disabled person who needs some help or an immigrant who needs some direction.
A rock in a pond. A bead of sweat on pavement. Ripple effects come in a varity of forms.
Bum knees will keep Dobner on the curb Sunday. Samaritas is located at about the 19-mile mark of the Free Press Marathon. She does have a background in running, though. She was a member of both the cross country and track and field teams at Chippewa Valley High School.
“I had a scholarship to Western Michigan, but I decided not to run,” she said.
That does not mean Dobner has stopped moving forward. Working at Samaritas, that is not an option. Extend a helping hand. Be it for a child without a home or a runner who stumbles.