Last year Angela Hamilton of Hickory ran the Boston Marathon in honor of her teenage son Nolan’s recovery from drug addiction, and to raise funds for Exodus Homes. In her struggle to understand her son’s problem she had learned about the faith-based United Way agency’s work helping homeless recovering people returning to the community from treatment centers and prisons. Her “Running for Recovery” 2010 campaign raised over $25,000,and was one of the key reasons the agency was able to keep the doors open last fall during a serious financial crisis due to the prolonged recession.
Angela is now serving on the Exodus Homes board of directors, and her son Nolan will graduate this year from a high school in Utah with plans to attend University of Tennessee at Knoxville. He has made tremendous progress in his recovery, but he knows college will present many challenges in the days ahead. When Angela realized that she would not be able to repeat Running for Recovery 2011 in the Boston Marathon because of scheduling problems, she began planning to pass the torch to continue what she hopes will be a tradition honoring Nolan’s recovery and the work of Exodus Homes.
Anna Griffis trained with Hamilton last year and qualified for the Boston Marathon by completing the 2010 Nashville Marathon. She is the daughter of the Rev. Dr. Thomas Griffis, pastor of St. Lukes United Methodist Church in Hickory. Anna moved to Washington, D.C. last fall to work with chronically homeless people struggling with mental illness and substance abuse.
Anna is 25 years old and started running in 7th grade. She ran cross country and track all through high school, and participated in a running club team while a student at UNC Chapel Hill. She ran her first marathon in 2005, but took a two year hiatus while serving in Mali, West Africa with the Peace Corps. During that time she was a health education volunteer in a 2,500 person village with no running water or electricity, working mostly with women and infants on nutrition. She also did a water sanitation project and some HIV/AIDS work in the schools.
Anna is excited about Running for Recovery 2011, saying “Running can be a very individualistic sport. ‘I want to run a marathon. I want to qualify for Boston. I want to get a personal record – so many ‘I’s”. Running for Exodus Homes and Nolan has allowed me to get away from the self-serving goals that I otherwise may have focused on. Now with every mile I will think not only about MY time, but about all of those folks out there who are struggling in their own race to heal. Most of us cannot even begin to imagine the lifelong struggle to recover from addiction. It is more daunting and drawn out than any marathon.”
Angela Hamilton is grateful for Anna’s willingness to honor Nolan and help Exodus Homes with Running for Recovery 2011. “I was overjoyed when Anna accepted the challenge to run her first Boston Marathon in honor of Exodus Homes. She has known our family’s journey first-hand and we have covered many miles of this recovery journey together on our runs. When she moved to D.C. to work with homeless addicted people, it seemed like a natural transition for her to run for Exodus Homes this year. Every mile I run now in Hickory is devoted to Anna’s training in D.C. and her efforts to run for Exodus in Boston on April 18th. Anna’s life is a demonstration of Matthew 25:40. She is always willing to work for the least of these in our community.”
Anna has struggled lately with a bout of runner’s knee and was concerned that she might not be able to run in Boston. “I may not be able to race it, but I will finish even if it takes me six hours. Just like in recovery, there may be relapse and pain, but I will stay the course and finish it one step at a time. Recovery is a like marathon – not a sprint. ” she said.
Exodus Homes is stable, but not out of the woods yet. Funds raised by Running for Recovery will help them continue to provide supportive housing, food, clothing, transportation, vocational training, job placement, case management and many other services that reduce crime, reduce prison recidivism, reunite families, and stabilize the community. Everyone who gives will have their name listed on the Running for Recovery 2011 banner that is going to the Boston Marathon with Anna.
Every three dollars raised by Running for Recovery will be supplemented with a dollar by a local fraternal chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans up to a maximum gift of $1600.00. Rev. Paul Christ, a board member of the organization said, “We are convinced that Exodus Homes is a valuable ministry in our community, and we want to be a part of their efforts to help those in need.”
Gifts to support Anna Griffis in Running for Recovery 2011 can be mailed to Exodus Homes, P.O. Box 3311, Hickory, N.C. 28603 (you can download a contibution form by clicking this link), or give online by clicking the “Donate Now” button on the right-hand side of the page.