Pajaro Valley Shelter Services (PVSS) will hold the 38th Annual Mother’s Day Run & Walk on May 8, returning to an in-person event for the first time since 2019.
The popular community event has been held virtually the past two years due to Covid-19. But organizers are gearing up to once again gather and participate together, this time at Pinto Lake County Park.
“We’re just over the moon to be able to do it live again,” says PVSS Executive Director Mike Johnson. “Two years being locked down, isolated and disconnected from our community has really been challenging for us. So this is an opportunity for us to reconnect in a deeper, more meaningful way with the people that support us.”
Johnson says he joined PVSS just as they were starting to plan for the 2020 race, which was eventually canceled.
“So really, this is my first actual Mother’s Day run as executive director,” he says. “I’m super excited to finally be part of this.”
Benna Dimig, development manager for PVSS, says there is excitement building among those who are registering, sponsoring and signing up to volunteer.
“This race is really a beloved community event that has a lot of heart,” Dimig says. “The community is so excited to come show their support for the work that we’re doing, and for the work our participants are doing.”
PVSS has been busy for the past two years. When the pandemic first hit, they saw a major influx of need in the community. Many PVSS’ participants lost their jobs, and more people than ever found themselves unable to pay rent and stay housed.
“It doesn’t take any special imagination that homelessness is exploding in our county,” Johnson says. “And the problem is only getting worse. Our solution is to keep getting better at what we do.”
The nonprofit has developed new programs addressing three core issues: emotional stability, financial stability and housing stability. This includes its Coordinated Economic Development Program, which aims to transition people away from Covid-vulnerable employment to more stable employment.
A brand new tenant education program, Hope and Home, launched last month. It aims to help people learn the technical aspects of finding and keeping housing, such as the application process, credit checks, interviews, leasing, fair housing law, home safety, and more.
Johnson says that the upcoming race will help the new program get off the ground. The event is themed around the name, Hope and Home.
PVSS’ goal is to raise $80k by Mother’s Day. They are already halfway there, Johnson reported.
The race’s change of venue is due in part to the ongoing construction at Ramsay Park. But the new course at Pinto Lake County Park promises to be enjoyable, Johnson says.
“It’s a beautiful course, and not as complicated to run around as the Ramsay Park area,” he says. “There’s a lot of beautiful views and trails.”
PVSS will be dedicating this year’s race in memory of Diane Porter Cooley, who died on March 10. Cooley was a longtime supporter of PVSS, dating back to the organization’s founding.
“She’s been our biggest single supporter over her lifetime,” Johnson says. “She’s been a tremendous friend to us and a lot of others in this community. We wanted to honor her.”
Dimig says that the stories surrounding the annual event have been inspiring to hear. From siblings who run every year in honor of their late mother, to others who ran their first race as a child and are still doing it 30 years later.
“We had someone pick up their bibs and say, ‘I’m running this race because when I was a child, I was here at the shelter, and I never felt homeless,’” she says. “The tradition that this event is for our community is so important. It’s bigger than the race itself, or even the work we do. It’s about these stories.”
The Mother’s Day Run & Walk will include a 1K Kids’ Fun Run starting at 7:45am. The main 5K event will begin at 8am. Awards will be presented after each race. For information on how to register, donate or volunteer visit pvshelter.org.