On of the less heralded aspects of the Skid Row Running Club is our unofficial mentorship program. As our humble club has grown in numbers, we are starting to attract people who are outside the Skid Row area. We have lawyers, movie executives, doctors, professors, newspaper reports, and mental health workers among those who join us regularly for our runs.
When people run for long distances, conversations start and friendships are born. In our running club, many of these friendships lead to informal mentorships, where someone who has more life experience in a given area, shares his or her wisdom to a 'mentee.' These relationships last beyond our runs, or the context of the Skid Row Running Club. Real change happens. Many of our 'mentors' have helped 'mentees' get employment, back into school, or are just there to listen.
The picture for this post features one of our original runners, Rafael, giving a talk to our runners at Hollenbeck Park. Rafael is a parolee, his crime: murder. Yet he is one of the kindest, gentlest souls in the club. He is also a role model and frequently offers assistance to anyone however he can, whether it be a car ride, giving encouraging phone call, helping other finds employment or establishing our community outreach programs. Rafael is a big believer in given back and he encourages all of us to do the same.