During this specific time in history, our world has seen some hardships—it’s not a secret that this pandemic has hit everyone differently. But with the tough times also comes some bright lights in the form of good deeds, charitable initiatives and individuals coming together to support one another. That sentiment is tenfold in the case of local Philadelphian Rachel Brambrick and the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit WORK.
WORK launched a decade ago and over the past ten years, the organization has worked tirelessly to further its mission in addressing issues of poverty in Haiti through medical attention, job training, financial education and other needed support. WORK has been quite successful too—to date the nonprofit has engaged with more than 2,000 families and has assisted them on the road to a better life.
With the world plagued by coronavirus and social distancing rules becoming the new normal, WORK—like many other organizations—decided to shift their annual Run Across Haiti ® event to the virtual sphere. Typically the event takes place in the form of an 8-day, 200-mile ultra-marathon on the island nation of Haiti, but this year the new “Run Across May” initiative will span over the month of May in its entirety and can be done from anywhere.
According to a release, each year approximately 40 runners raise funds to support WORK via Run Across Haiti ®, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, runners who had been training for the Haiti-based event committed to completing their 200 miles solo over the month of May while practicing social distancing.
One of those runners is Rachel Bambrick, an occupational therapist who currently lives in Fishtown. The 27-year-old became the first woman to cross the finish line for WORK’s Run Across May, completing the challenge solo last Saturday.
“I support WORK because of their mission and how they embody a commitment to sustainability,” said Bamrick in the release. “Unfortunately I could not run in Haiti this year, but I ran the 200 miles as if we were in Haiti to show the families that WORK supports that we are here for them no matter what.”
Everyone can get involved with this meaningful initiative, and you don’t need to be a competitive runner to do it. With WORK’s virtual “200 Together” movement, participants can complete any activity involving movement using variations of the number 200, and so far runners, walkers, weightlifters, fundraisers and even bakers have pledged their support with various creative ways of participating.
“Now, more than ever, our community in Haiti needs us. We are working with our Haitian team to ensure accurate information is being communicated so our families know when to shelter in place, isolate or seek treatment,” said Vivien Luk, WORK Executive Director in the release. “We are providing additional services to our families, replacing lost wages due to necessary social distancing and access to COVID treatment if needed, and this event will raise funds needed to support these efforts.”
According to the release, over the past five years, Run Across Haiti ® has raised more than $1 million to support WORK’s initiatives to provide wrap-around service to families in Haiti with the goal of placing two heads of households into a job. Although this pandemic has hit the organization, WORK is still looking for ways to do good, and being apart of that is nothing short of impactful.
“Providing living wage jobs to both parents so kids can be kids, caring for families and providing a path out of poverty as well as repurposing discarded plastic while reducing landfill waste is a sustainable system that works,” added Luk in the release. “We cannot allow COVID-19 to derail our progress, and we invite everyone who wants to make a lasting difference to get involved. If you can do 200 push-ups, raise $200, bake 200 cookies, sew 200 masks for your local healthcare workers, we want you to be a part of this.”