However, I've made a decision to run the Chicago Marathon to raise some money for the organization I volunteer for... and I feel compelled to share my story with my readers.
Mercy Ministries is a non-profit based here in Nashville. With homes in Nashville, St. Louis, Monroe (LA) and a new home opening in Sacramento (CA), Mercy is a residential treatment facility for young women ages 13-28 who are struggling with addictions, eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies and forms of self-harm such as cutting. The young women who come to Mercy do so voluntarily to receive counseling and help in overcoming these issues in a Godly environment. You can learn more about them at their website www.mercyministries.com.
I first got involved with volunteering at Mercy in 2007 when my boss and I raised money for them through work when we ran the 2007 Nashville marathon. Shortly after the marathon, I felt led to start giving my time to Mercy. Since then, I joined the Nashville Community Advisory Board to aid the Mercy staff in planning both fundraising and awareness events in the Nashville area. I also began going to the office at least every other week to help with some administrative tasks and serve as the volunteer coordinator.
I have never struggled with an eating disorder. I have never tried to harm myself with cutting or with alcohol. In a lot of ways, I definitely do NOT understand what the girls at Mercy have experienced in their lives. When I hear some of their stories (you can read some on the website), I am just blown away by the things they have had to face and overcome in their lives.
However, I do know what it's like to be a woman. I know how our brains work and how we can be especially critical of ourselves. While my own self-criticism has never led to something extreme like an eating disorder, I do feel like I can understand a small shimmer of the thought process that leads some women to such things. We live in a world that is overly concerned about appearance and beauty and things of this nature.
When it comes down to it, I really do believe we are ALL beautiful. (This is why I LOVE the whole Operation Beautiful project.) I believe we all have good things that we can focus on. Our strengths can be highlighted, and our weaknesses can be improved.
I believe that young women struggling with these issues deserve to have a place they can go to help them overcome these things. Mercy doesn't charge a dime. Everything is provided to the women who come to the program FREE OF CHARGE.
It costs $175 per girl per day to keep Mercy operating. Compare this to the secular rehab programs that charge people over $1000 a day. Mercy gives these girls not only a home and counseling, but also a place where they can receive unconditional love and learn more about the love that God has for them.
I've decided to dedicate my marathon in Chicago to Mercy Ministries. I know times are tough, and I am so not the kind of girl who likes to ask people for money. However, I wouldn't feel right not making an effort to spread the word about this fantastic organization that I give a good bit of my time to on a regular basis.
Feel free to check out their website. Learn more about them. Think on it. And if you feel led, I'd so appreciate any donation you can make. No amount is too small or too big. The girls at Mercy will be even more appreciative than me.
If you'd like to make a donation, please click on this link to visit my fundraising page. I'm also planning a 5K here in Nashville for the home, so when you click on it it will say something about the Nashville 5K. We found that I had to have one fundraising page that allowed both flat donations and the opportunity for people to sign up for the 5K. This link takes you to the area where you can make a donation as opposed to signing up for the 5K. (Although, if you live in Nashville, I encourage you to join my team for the 5K on October 24th!)
Thanks for reading this and considering helping the girls at Mercy Ministries.
If you have ANY questions, please let me know!