Wayside Youth & Family Services Supporting Youth During COVID; Seeks Community Support with Virtual 5K4Kids Event

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By Sydni Williams

FRAMINGHAM – The 11th annual 5k4kids fundraising event by Wayside Youth and Family Services will be held virtually the week of October 10th to  17th. Registration is a $10 donation or $17 with a T-shirt included. The deadline to register is October 16. All proceeds go back to the Wayside youth and families to provide extra services. 

In past years, the 5k4kids has consisted of a 5K run or walk, Halloween festival, and a grand prize raffle drawing of $5,000 travel voucher, of the winner’s choice. This year, with the global pandemic, Wayside has reiimagined the event to ensure the safety of all participants. 

Participants should register online and join a team. The virtual 5k will occur during the week of October 10th and anyone can complete the 5k in those 7 days. To track routes and time, the 5k will use an app called IYR mobile app. 

Nick Kane, Wayside Youth and Family Services development manager, explained that the virtual fundraiser has “ allowed us to make it a more inclusive event.”

Not only has Wayside been able to lower the prices of registration, they can also “draw a wider and more diverse audience.” 

This year, 2020, is the 11th annual event, and “the goal is to raise 100,000 dollars” Kane said. “If we are able to raise 100,000 dollars that would mean in 11 years we’ve raised just over a million dollars.”

“The continued success of this event,” Kane said, “is due largely in part to our staff who have such a strong commitment to being advocates for the kids and their families that they work with everyday, and being a part of an agency thats committed to being an agent of change.”

The event is sponsored by Middlesex Savings Bank, the platinum sponsor, and other local businesses and organizations. 

Donations from the 5K race are used “everything that goes above and beyond the regular scope of care that we provide our families and youth” Kane said.

Specifically, it will provide “holiday gifts for the youth in our residential programs, emergency food, clothing, and basic needs for the families we serve, or backpacks with school supplies.”

The 5k’s funds will also be used to support Wayside’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiative. 

 “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a commitment that Wayside has in all parts of our work” Kane said. “It has been incorporated as key pillar in our new strategic plan as an agency.”

Donations allocated towards the DEI initiative will “help further our diversity, equity, and inclusion work in the community,” said Kane.

Wayside Youth and Family Services works within its own agency “to become an inclusive organization” and to “create an equity continuum as a model of change.” Wayside also trains and consults other organizations on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and anti-racist work. 

Kane said the DEI initiative ““started back in 2015/2016 and it has really continued through our work.”

“Since the pandemic our residential programs have remained open,” Kane said “at limited capacity, with our staff who have been fully enthusiastic and abiding by PPE and social distancing guidelines.”

At first, in-home therapy was held through tele-health, but Wayside has recently returned to in person visits. 

In Framingham, Wayside has opened a COVID quarantine youth unit, where they can house up to 10 youth who can be with us for 14 days. The quarantine unit is intended for youth who have “unknown statuses and are awaiting their test results.” Currently, this is the only quarantine unit in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Wayside also received a number of emergency grants from local foundations, such as Foundation for MetroWest, Metrowest Health Foundation, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, The Sudbury Foundation, Greater Lowell Community Foundation, Eversource Energy Charitable Foundation, CHNA 6, and CHNA 7. 

Sydni Williams is a 2020 SOURCE intern. She is a student at St. Mark’s School in Southborough.

Editor’s Note: SOURCE is a media sponsor of the 5K4Kids event in 2020

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email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176

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