Volunteering at Run the Vineyards Wagonhouse 10 Miler

This past weekend was the Broad Street Run – a 10 mile race that takes place on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

However, this post isn’t about that 10 mile race!

When I didn’t get into the Broad Street Run via the lottery system, I was bummed for a few days. Then I settled on the fact that it wasn’t meant to be this year and quickly shook off my disappointment.

I decided that if I wasn’t going to be running, I could and should volunteer my time at a local race. Good Day for a Run hosts their Run the Vineyards series at a local vineyard winery and knowing that, I clicked the volunteer form and signed up! The previous weekend I ran their 5 miler and as I am a “professional philanthropist” I was very much looking forward to lending a hand.

The race director, Ken, and his wife, Beth, are great with communication and for me, communication is key. I’m a planner and Type A to the extreme so I want to know everything. About a week prior to the event I heard from Beth with instructions of what time I should be at the site (7:45, the race began at 9am) and where to head once I got there.

Immediately after arriving at 7:45am, I found Beth at the bib pickup table. While last week’s 5 mile event had over 650 runners, this one was capped at 120, due to the space the vineyard had to host the runners at the after party. There was a bib pickup the previous day at the local Running Co. however many opted to get their bibs the morning of the race. I grabbed a spot at the table and jumped right in handing out bibs to runners.

For the next hour there was a steady flow of runners getting their bibs, checking out the course map, and asking general questions. Local races are always good for seeing familiar faces and while I didn’t know anyone personally, I did recognize people from other events.

You know when you enter an established crew of people and you’re never sure if you’ll fit in? The potential for it to be awkward is high. Thankfully that was NOT the case! Beth and the other volunteers (who were seasoned pros!) were so warm and welcoming, I felt like I knew them for years.

Once the race began we knew we’d have at least an hour and change, which is when we set up the tables for post-race which held water, KIND bars, soft pretzels, finisher’s glasses and medals.

The weather was not consistent at all – there were moments of sunshine but it was mostly cloudy and occasionally a brief shower came out of seemingly nowhere so we wanted to make sure that everything was covered (rain and soft pretzels do not go well together). We wanted everything to be just right for the runners when they crossed the finish line.

Once the runners started to come toward the finish area, we all stationed ourselves at different locations.

There was an area where you could very well turn and go to the finish, but there was a last little loop through the vineyards. I stood right at that area and clapped for everyone as I pointed them in the right direction.

I got a lot of smiles, a few people pulled their earbuds out so they could hear me, and I heard a lot of groans, too. “But the finish line is RIGHT THERE!” Oh, do I know that feeling all too well!

I’ve volunteered at a few races during my time as a runner and I have to say that this was far and away the most enjoyable atmosphere I’ve ever experienced. While I might not have gotten to run down Broad Street with 40,000 people, I can honestly say that this is where I was meant to be on Sunday morning. Other than being cold and having to wrap myself in my dog’s WALL-E car blanket, I loved every moment!

Another perk to volunteering for the Run the Vineyards races, besides feeling really good about helping out? I scored an entry to a future race! Now which one should I choose?

You know what I’m going to say here, don’t you? Considering volunteering for a race? DO IT! Haven’t considered volunteering for a race? Well, I hope you are now because it is absolutely worth it!

Next race for me is Ragnar PA! After Ragnar I’ve got a break on my race calendar until September when I return with the Shenandoah half and Rock ‘n Roll Philadelphia. Who will I see where?

In a year’s time

I’ve never been one to think very far into the future. Retirement planning was such a tough concept for me. It’s forever away, why do I need to start planning now? And if you’ve been reading for a while, you know I am also the Crown Princess of Procrastination Nation.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook and said that volunteers were needed for this year’s South Shore Half Marathon, and people that volunteered would get free registration next year. I’m not sure why I even cared. I mean, I had friends that ran it last year, and it’s super close to my house, and runs through a gorgeous part of the burbs that I live in, but still. Aside from being a habitual non long term plan ahead-er, I haven’t run in… a while.

Like two years, give or take.

Still, I immediately texted my running/walking/brunching partner, Sara, and told her about my cockamamie plan, signed us up, and wondered how cold it was going to be on race day. (It wound up being high 50s/low 60s. Last year, it was in the 20s, so this was definitely better).

We signed up to work at the finish line. I had no idea what we’d be doing, but at least we didn’t have to be there until 8. I probably would have gone for race day registration, because sitting there doing paperwork is my speed, but it was a) bananas early and b) already full. So finish line it was!

It took us a few minutes to even find the finish line, because it’s tucked away on a side road, behind a cemetery, at the bottom of a hill, almost in the woods. Having not volunteered before, we were a little lost, but Sara and I are take charge, bossy types, so before long, we found our spot and got down to business.

We wound up unpacking, unrolling, and eventually, handing out medals. There were a LOT of them. Something like 2200. I had no idea that many people were running this thing.

Lots and lots of medals. They're so pretty!

Unpacking isn’t exactly glamorous work, but man, handing out medals to people that just finished a half marathon? That is FUN.


We were actually around the corner from the actual finish line, but we could see it through the trees. There was music playing (omg, please stop with the cheerleader song, I cannot), and a generally festive atmosphere. We stood around for a bit, waiting for the first person to cross the finish line (1:15:13, woah) and then more people started to trickle in.


And then BOOM, it just sort of exploded for about an hour. With 7 people handing out medals, we could still barely keep up. But it was a good kind of crazy, you know?

Some people looked like they were just out for a leisurely stroll, some looked like they wanted to die. One guy proposed to his girlfriend as she finished (she said yes! check out the race’s FB page for pics. )  But they were all pretty happy to see us! (We were directly in front of the bananas, which may have been part of it).

I said ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Great job’ so many times. A lot of people thanked us for volunteering, which was cool. Things would slow down and speed up, but it did trickle down eventually, and then we heard someone say there were only a few more people left out there.

My partner in crime, Sara, during a moment of downtime.

My partner in crime, Sara, during a moment of downtime.

Leaving before everyone finished was in NO WAY an option. If you finish a half marathon, even you’re the last one to finish… Hell, ESPECIALLY if you are the last one to finish, someone better be there to hand you a metal.

And we were.

All in all, it was a great experience. I feel so motivated, and inspired, by all the people that ran that race. And, that day reminded me of a few things that I needed to be reminded of.

  1. I saw so many people with this look on their face, this immense pride at having finished, this visible sense of accomplishment. I want that moment. And the medal that goes with it, tbh.
  2. Not everyone who runs half marathons looks the way you might expect people who run half marathons to look. I.e. I won’t be the only fat girl at the party.
  3. I can do this. I am capable of whatever I put my mind to, I just have to put my mind to it. I can. And I will. (borrowed from Mer)
It will be mine

It will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

So, in a year’s time, I plan to be on the other side of that finish line. Sara and I are working out the details of our training plan. I can tell you it won’t be like my last half marathon training plan (pretend you haven’t signed up for 8 months, then try to train in 8 weeks and gift yourself with a year of intense PF pain).

And hey, if you’re from this area, and want to join me, do it! Heck, even if you aren’t from anywhere near here (HINT HINT HINT TO MY CHICKS), you should come up anyway. You don’t even have to run. Just volunteer.

You can hand me my medal.


It Made a Difference For That One: 5 thoughts on volunteering

Hi, I’m Meridith and I’m a professional philanthropist.

I always joke about this with friends (especially Brooke, who is also a professional philanthropist) but I’m only somewhat kidding. I volunteer my time… a lot. And it rocks.

If you’ve read Scoot a Doot for any amount of time, you’ve probably figured out that we chicks are big on the doing good things. Do good, feel good! That’s our motto.

Okay, no it’s not. But it’s our secondary motto. (Do those exist? Well, they do now!)

When the PTO needs a secretary… or a vice-president – yeah, I’m holding two positions this year – I’ve got my hand up.

Food drive? Here’s the tuna fish!

Gifts for the holiday giving tree? We’ll take two requests!

When you’re looking to do good, there is never a shortage of opportunities. In fact, it can all be a bit daunting. As a professional philanthropist, I feel it is my duty to share different ways that you too, can volunteer.

Selfie with one of the snuggle pups, Star. ADOPTED

Selfie with one of the shelter snuggle pups, Star. ADOPTED

Front and center on my volunteering stage recently has been my local animal shelter. The want to do this was always present; the reality of me being able to make this happen started in August.

Let’s break it down. I’ll be using the animal shelter as my emphasis but really, this works for many volunteer positions.


It’s usually a good idea to make sure you’re fully interested in volunteering for a cause. For example, I wouldn’t volunteer to be a children’s archery instructor because I have bad aim and bad luck.

Many volunteering positions are one and done opportunities, and that’s great if you’re short on time or looking for a quick jolt of feeling good!

An example? Recently the shelter was low on food. As in, so low that they weren’t sure how they were going to feed the animals for the next month. A local news station picked up the story as a human interest piece and then this happened.


A-maz-ing. Photo credit: Camden County Animal Shelter

Community members far and wide came together to donate cat and dog food, beds, laundry detergent, and other daily shelter needs. It was truly incredible to see!

Some people want to do even MORE. That’s when they come out to volunteer interest meetings. Shelters, hospitals (I was a junior volunteer aka candy striper, once upon a time), PTOs – they all have these meetings to tell you more about the organization and what you can do to make a difference.


Time is something that everyone seems short on these days and I can appreciate that. I do have more time than many as a stay at home parent, which is why I like to fill my time with things that are valuable in meaning.

I love dogs and I would have all of the shelter dogs living in my house if I had the option. However, I do like my husband and he’s told me that we are good with ONE dog for now. Sigh. 

Anyway… runners and walkers, take note because this is for YOU.

The dogs in shelters NEED exercise. They want nothing more than to get out of their kennels and frolic with me. I walk with many but there are some who are all about running! I spend approximately a mile per dog, which adds up for both dogs and mileage! It’s a win all around.

Also, some of those dogs require upper body strength because they are STRONG! Total body work out, heyyyyy.


Oh, you’re not independently wealthy?

Yeah, me either.

Until I hit the lottery or find a suitcase of 100s, I’m not always able to give financially. However, I have plenty of things in my house that are useful.

And I bet YOU do too.

Shelters need old bedding, towels and sheets to make their animals feel comfy cozy in their temporary homes. Recently I went through my linen closet and pulled older things I no longer used and then reorganized my closet. Donation for the shelter AND a clean closet. Look at me, being all domestic! (This happens less often than it should so yes, I’m totally patting myself on the back.)

In the case that you ARE independently wealthy, I hope you’re donating to your favorite causes!


There is something that speaks to me about being a representative of someone or something that might not otherwise have a voice. The animals at the shelter don’t have Facebook, they don’t have blogs, they don’t get a chance to get out much…

But I do.

As a volunteer, I am able to bring a pup to get pictures taken at an amazing photographer.


Sweet Lexus on the way to her glamour shots! She is available at Camden County Animal Shelter.


Photo credit: Valerie Bruder Photography

As a volunteer, I am able to take a dog to a local park in hopes of having them meet people who are looking to add a new member to the family.

Shawna at the park! ADOPTED!

Shawna at the park! ADOPTED!

As a volunteer, I am able to sign up for events such as parades and mall visits to get the pooches out of their kennels and visible in the community.

It’s good stuff. And when you’ve got a big mouth and a willing audience, you cannot be stopped!


Listen, when it comes down to it, a big reason that people volunteer is that it makes them feel good.

I love animals, I love spending time with them, and I want to help them in any capacity that I can. Since I don’t live on a ranch and since I’m not independently wealthy, volunteering at the shelter is the absolute best thing I can do to love on the dogs there (and cats – I’ve ventured into the cat room too, I’m still learning the ropes there).


Kiwi – Available at Camden County Animal Shelter (edit to add: ADOPTED!)

I have many four-legged friends and yes, I’ll admit that I miss them when I enter the kennel area only to find a new little face looking up at me.

But that’s also the best day, because it means that they’ve found their forever home.

And that new pup will need a friend to love on them, to walk them, and to give them treats. I’ll be there, leash in hand.

What are your favorite ways to give back to the community? Is there a volunteer opportunity that’s on your bucket list? What’s stopping you?