Good Matters™ Blog

Posted on January 5th, 2012

My volunteer story: Coach Laura

Posted by Laura, Health and Specialty Sales

As one of the Health and Specialty Field Sales Reps for Tom’s of Maine I am constantly on the run. On a daily basis I visit several health and specialty stores in my region, bringing new items and programs to the retailers, and ultimately making sure you can locate the products you love. Many times I find myself talking with you in the aisles – answering questions about our products or about the company. One tidbit I try to always share is a benefit dear to my heart – volunteer time. It means I can share my passion for Tom’s while helping to make my community a better place. I love knowing Tom’s supports my other passions and it is one of the reasons I started with the company seven years ago. How awesome is it that I am able to take precious work time and share my talents with others!

2011 marked a year of new for me – new passion for running, completing three half marathon races, and finding inspiration in an unexpected place. For my third race I wanted to dedicate my training to a cause, raising money and awareness for a worthy organization. A friend introduced me to a group called SoleMates, a running group that was training for the Women’s Half Marathon in support of Girls on the Run, Maricopa County (GOTR). I looked up the group and fell in love with the concept; inspiring young girls to be their best self while instilling a healthy activity. That Saturday I donned my sneakers at 5:30 AM to meet these SoleMates and run the planned 6 miles. Ear buds in, music cued, I was ready to get the miles out of the way. One mile in, Annette, a board member for GOTR, began telling the story of GOTR and her experience as a coach. Music tuned out and all I wanted to hear was how I could be a coach too. That was the easiest 6 miles ever!

Girls on the Run combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls. In 1996 Molly Barker, founder of GOTR, piloted the first session with 13 brave girls consisting of 24 lessons, ending with a 5k race. Today it is an international program with chapters widespread. The Maricopa County chapter had 500 girls participate in the program for the 2011 fall season, 14 from my school – the Zito Girls.

August 2011 I found myself back in school, this time as a “teacher”, meeting a new friend and fellow coach while preparing for the lesson of the day. We met twice per week, for 12 weeks. Each lesson was different, ranging from self-esteem building, to learning about bullying, to how to be a positive community member. During the course of the season I was inspired to see girls encouraging each other, grabbing hands to help one another finish the planned distance. My heart broke the each time I heard a girl say she was ugly or slow, and later rejoiced when the same girl gained confidence and shouted “I am perfect the way I am!” What an amazing experience to have, watching each girl uncover her extraordinary potential, demonstrate courage and generally embrace being “fantabulous”.

The Zito Girls showed up at 6:30 AM on a cold December morning, ready to race. We pinned numbers to their jackets, made our way to the start line and off we went, dodging in and out of the crowd. My proudest moment was presenting the girls with their medal. Oh, and I raised $400 for the program too. Now that it is officially 2012, I am looking forward to the Spring Season.

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