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A Serendipitous Tale

By Jennifer Helfrich on 09/12/2016 | Featured Columns & Series

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines serendipity as the following: “Luck that takes the form of finding valuable or pleasant things that are not looked for.” 

As I am about to start coaching the very first season of Girls on the Run in my community, I cannot help but reflect on the events that have led up to this moment. The word “serendipity” occurs often when I think about GOTR, and even more often when I talk about it.  

As the mother to two young girls, GOTR’s objectives align perfectly with everything that I want my daughters to learn and experience. I have made it my responsibility to guide them to become independent, healthy, responsible, compassionate, intelligent and thoughtful people. The Girls on the Run program strives to teach girls to learn to respond to others and themselves with care, feel confident, connect to others, contribute to society, continually improve competence and develop strength of character.     

While I had heard of Girls on the Run previously, I first really got to know what it’s all about when I was researching the organization earlier this year in order to write about it for Runitlikeamom.com, a blog that I contribute to regularly. There wasn’t a council in my area, but even if it wasn’t a program that my daughters could participate in, I knew others could benefit from learning about the organization. And who knows? Maybe I could convince someone, somewhere, that a council in this area would be a good idea, someday?

Enter serendipity. Imagine my delight and surprise upon finding out that a council for the Greater Hartford area was actually being established! I spoke with several people who were working to get the council established; I learned about how they got involved with Girls on the Run, how passionate they were about its mission to empower girls, and organizations and areas they had identified for potential pilot seasons. Over the course of several conversations, I finally got the nerve up to say, “How about my town?”

The response was YES, we thought you’d never ask!

From late spring until now, there were meetings, emails, phone calls, some hand wringing, more emails, social media messages and posts - all lobbying to bring Girls on the Run to my community. Somewhere during that time, I was either asked if I would, or volunteered to be, the Head Coach for the team at my older daughter’s school.  I honestly don’t remember how it happened, but I think serendipity had something to do with it.  

Upon participating in coach training, I realized how fortunate I am to be involved with this very valuable program. I realized that this was something that I had been missing from my life, and from my daughter’s. I am amazed that in just a few short months, I went from being merely curious about this organization to actually helping to bring it to my community and being part of the coaching team!

All this is to say, I am beyond excited for the season to start next week! I’m also nervous, a little scared and way too giddy with anticipation. I cannot wait to bring the lessons of Girls on the Run to these girls and see how they take them in and shine, and to see how my fellow coaches and I grow and learn along with them.

I’ll be posting periodically over the next few months, so I’ll let you all know how it’s going. I feel confident that this is going to be an amazing experience for all who are participating!

Thank you serendipity, I owe you one.

Jennifer Helfrich

Author

Jennifer is a neophyte Head Coach for the first Girls on the Run season in her town of Canton, CT. She is a mom to two young daughters and enjoys running, biking, reading, cooking, writing, and being “explorers on an exploration” with her kids.  You can see some of Jennifer’s other musings on parenting, running, health and life’s miscellany at runitlikeamom.com. Photo courtesy of Michelle Mullin. 

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