Dec. 27, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – Today I completed 24 years, 361days of not missing a day of running. That’s 9,126 days in a row and run No. 22 of the 25 Runs of Gratitude.
I woke up at 6:30 a.m. and noticed we had a steady rain and the radar didn’t show any promise of clearing. Kathy Wolfe from the Workforce Development Center was slated to run with us and I wondered if she would run in the rain.
I got Jack and Maddie out of bed and fully expected they may be the only ones running with me. I was blown away when we arrived at the Workforce Development Center and the lobby was full of people.
Shane Oppermann from Alexxsa showed up again as well as Scott Schneiberg who was joined by his daughter, Julie. Mark Blau and his son Blake showed up just because they wanted to run. Alliance Services Inc. showed up with a huge contingent of people and Bernie Newman was also in the lobby with members of Common Sense Citizens. What an exciting way to start a very dreary day. And yes, Kathy Wolfe was there in her running clothes ready to go.
It was certainly a special treat that Mark Blau and his son Blake showed up for the run. Our family has watched the Blau family grow up in church at Holy Angels the last eight years. We watched them have one son, followed by another son, followed by another son. About 15 years before them we also had one son, followed by two more sons, and then we added a daughter at the end. What are the odds Blaus?
Blake was in amazing shape for an eight year old. He ran the entire run at a very fast clip. His father had to kick it in to catch him at the end. Blake is a third grader at Decorah Elementary and is also a Wildcat wrestler. His father shared with me that Blake recently won a tournament and his conditioning was the factor.
Today we ran for the Workforce Development Centerand its Independent Living Program. Kathy Wolfe is a Program Director at Waukesha-Ozaukee-Washington Workforce Development Inc. Kathy shared the following:
The Independent Living Program in Washington County looks to help disconnected young adults who have aged out foster care, residential care facilities, group homes, or who had been adopted after the age of 16 or entered a guardianship placement, connect to resources that help them achieve household and financial stability. Many of these young adults have been the victims of repeated abuse and prolonged neglect and have not experienced a nurturing, stable environment during the early years of life. While many foster homes provide safe and stable environments, the youth who age out of these settings have often been placed in multiple settings with multiple schools, change is the norm and the focus is usually on the immediate needs and concerns, not on life after the age of 18.
When these young adults age out of care, many of the placements they were in abruptly end; certain residential facilities are not allowed by law to have anyone over 18 in their care, foster parents cannot financially continue to support the individual, and biological parents are still not able to adequately care for them. They are 18, have no home, no job, no advanced education, no direction and no knowledge of how to live independently. Certainly, these young adults are faced with uncertainty in all aspects of their lives. They experience a higher rate of homelessness, higher rates of employment, and lower enrollment rates into post-secondary education. The uncertainty of their situation can lead to living on the streets and higher crime rates as they try to survive on their own.
The Independent Living Program is a life-line to these youth, providing them with intensive, wrap-around case management services until the age of 21 that focuses on addressing their housing, education, employment, transportation, health and permanent connection needs. Through case management, referral to community resources and financial support, young adults are taught independent living skills, including how to problem solve to meet their own needs.
Washington County is very grateful for the Independent Living Program.
Friday, Dec. 28 we run from the doorsteps of the Albrecht Free Clinic, 908 W. Washington Street at 9 a.m. See you then!
Click HERE for more stories about Pete Rettler’s 25 Runs of Gratitude for United Way of Washington County.