For July’s Girl Hero, we are excited to feature Rainier Vista’s Community Builder, Jeniffer Calleja! Girls on the Run Puget Sound has been honored to work with Jen and the amazing community at the Rainier Vista Seattle Housing Authority for the past year.
Rainier Vista is a low-income public housing complex located at the very north end of the Rainier Valley in South Seattle. This rich and vibrant community served a team of 20 GOTR girls this spring and plans to serve nearly 30 more in a weeklong Camp GOTR session this August.
Jeniffer has considerately served as a site liaison for both sessions, going above and beyond the volunteer role to bring this program to the residents of Rainier Vista. To overcome language and accessibility barriers, Jeniffer has spent a gracious amount of time going from door to door in the neighborhood to help families register and spread the word about Girls on the Run. She remained in constant communication with our staff and team of volunteer coaches to ensure that each participant got the proper amount of gear, shoes, snacks, and materials at every practice. When it came to the 5K, Jeniffer helped to arrange transportation for all participants and recruited a Running Buddy for each GOTR girl.
Jeniffer shared with us how she got involved with Girls on the Run saying,
“I heard that Girls on the Run at NewHolly was inclusive and very successful. This is my first year, and it was important to me that girls in Rainier Vista had the opportunity to be outside, surprise themselves and build community, particularly after the challenges that they endured during the pandemic. A majority of the girls in the neighborhood are of Islamic faith, and I felt that this girl-only program would be well received by families. GOTR is inclusive, responsive and safe. “
Jen also shares her favorite memory from the Spring 2022 season:
“The practice 5K was a lot of fun. Kids were dramatic and laying on the sidewalk after completing their first lap. My running buddy at the real 5K outran me by over a minute after entering the track at the end, it was incredible.”
Girls on the Run Rainier Vista could simply not exist without Jeniffer's selfless work to make the program happen. All of us at Girls on the Run Puget Sound are lucky to work with such a dedicated and compassionate individual who truly believes in the power and mission of Girls on the Run. Thank you, Jeniffer, for all that you do for Rainier Vista and for giving girls in the community an opportunity to gain confidence, power, and joy!