RunningWorks and Beautiful Together launch new initiative for homeless youth and families

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RunningWorks Founder and Executive Director Meredith Dolhare talks with Beautiful Together Co-Founder Tamara Lackey about the importance of programs for homeless youth and the need for portable showers. Watch the full video below.

RunningWorks Founder and Executive Director Meredith Dolhare talks with Beautiful Together Co-Founder Tamara Lackey about the importance of programs for homeless youth and the need for portable showers. Watch the full video below.

RunningWorks is announcing a new partnership with Beautiful Together, a charitable organization founded by husband-and-wife team Steve and Tamara Lackey that seeks to improve the lives of children living in extreme poverty, foster care or orphanages.

With projects in Africa and the United States, the Lackeys fulfill the mission of Beautiful Together through a combination of on-the-ground work, professional photography, video and social outreach. They are constantly seeking out new projects that have a measurable and tangible impact on improving the lives of children in need.

Earlier this year, Beautiful Together selected RunningWorks to launch its newest project, an effort to build a set of private, portable showers for homeless youth.

“This relatively simple thing – clean, safe showers for homeless youth – offers them not only the dignity that we all deserve, but the opportunity to stay healthy and have the best opportunity to present themselves in a way that can dramatically change their lives,” wrote the Lackeys on the Beautiful Together website. “RunningWorks operates on the mentality that sometimes you need to love people before they can love themselves, and you need to believe in people before they believe in themselves. We love that. We believe in that.”

RunningWorks serves youth as young as four years old. Many of our youngest, most promising team members are navigating life on the streets after aging out of the foster care system at age 17.

RunningWorks serves youth as young as four years old. Many of our youngest, most promising team members are navigating life on the streets after aging out of the foster care system at age 17.

Once complete, the private shower facilities will include one private shower stall for women and girls and one private shower stall for men and boys. The goal for the project is to raise $9,500 with 100 percent of the funds going directly towards building these much needed facilities and providing the RunningWorks team with a generous supply of personal hygiene products, toiletries and towels in addition to bus passes for transportation. To date, over $3,500 has been donated towards the cause.

RunningWorks Founder and Executive Director Meredith Dolhare says she cannot be more ecstatic about all the support the project has received, not only from the local community but from donors across the country. She said it will go a long way in helping RunningWorks further its mission of using sport and education to empower individuals and families to break cycles of abuse, neglect, poverty and homelessness one stride at a time.

“We could not be more grateful to Beautiful Together for their partnership,” said Dolhare. “[They] really ‘get’ the crux of issues presented to our homeless youth.”

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The RunningWorks team is a "family of choice." In addition to instilling values accrued through sport, the program's aim is to provide a familial support system and safety net for neighbors in need who may not experience it elsewhere.

The RunningWorks team is a “family of choice.” We gather regularly for family-style meals.

RunningWorks operates value-based running, outreach and educational programs with six locations across the Carolinas. The goal of the sport-for-social-change nonprofit is to help participants use skills accrued through sport – such as discipline, teamwork, and determination among others – to their everyday lives in achieving goals for housing, health, employment and education.

The vast majority of RunningWorks team members are homeless and/or living in extreme poverty. Many don’t have access to the simple things that most of us take for granted like a clean, safe place to shower. Providing access to showers would prove invaluable, particularly to the youth served – some as young as four years old and many of whom have been orphaned or abandoned by their families or are facing homelessness after aging out of the foster care system at age 17.

In her years of working with homeless individuals and families across the Carolinas, Dolhare said she’s found that as helpful as homeless shelters can be, many issues still persist especially in serving homeless youth as they strive to figure out life on the streets. Many who have become homeless due to fleeing unsafe or harmful home environments are too young to stay at the shelter. Those who are old enough, sometimes avoid the showers after being discouraged by long lines and the fact that many of them feel unsafe being part of an environment in which they are unable to protect themselves as needed. It’s not uncommon for these youth to share shower experiences more horrific than scenes from inside a men’s prison.

For these reasons, the team at Beautiful Together is confident that its latest project will go a long way in benefitting the lives of children and families in need.

“We are grateful to be partnering with RunningWorks, an organization that works hard to stop the destructive cycle of homelessness,” they said. “In order to break the cycle of homelessness, there needs to be access to something as simple as showers, the ability to get clean, to feel better and to stay healthy in unhealthy environments.”

To learn more about Beautiful Together’s amazing new partnership with RunningWorks or to make a donation, please visit BeautifulTogether.org. In the video below, RunningWorks’ Executive Director talks about how the partnership will go along way in helping youth across the Carolinas.

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