RDG Month of Thanks, Day 8: NeighborLink Fort Wayne & Andrew Hoffman

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Day 8 of RDG’s Month of Thanks remembers how great of a fit that NeighborLink Fort Wayne was for Runners Doing Good, especially at such a crucial time for us.

Ever feel that something is just meant to be? When the decision was made that we were going to be supporting a new charity, we didn’t really want to and honestly, didn’t know where to start. There were a lot of different groups that were amazing within our community but it was a matter of fit.

From afar, NeighborLink Fort Wayne was an organization that for a few reasons, made the list, but just seemed to have the it factor and I had a good feeling about. I didn’t know anyone there though. A couple of the organizations I was thinking about, I had a contact of some sort that I could reach out to and learn more about them. I had nothing with NLFW.

And then something started to happen. Some people might call it providence but there were these little whispers. Jenn had a coworker that had known Andrew because of cycling interests. They talked about how NLFW and Andrew were incredible. Then I met with a community leader, at his request, to learn more about the running team and what I was involved in with it. He was actually on a board for a group that does some amazing things for the connectivity of Fort Wayne and somewhere in the mix, “what next?” was brought up and I mentioned the dilemma I was in and he told me to not worry about the past. We’d done a lot there. He discussed what his group did and the feeling I was left with about that was that what they do is immensely expensive so the impact our group would have would be minimal, to an extent. Those are my words, not his.

But at the end of that conversation, he said, if you’re ever looking for someone great to work with, Andrew Hoffman and NeighborLink Fort Wayne, do amazing work. It felt like another whisper.

Not long after, I worked out a meeting with Andrew over at Hop River Brewing and we talked for about an hour. There was a calm about him. I learned about the organization and the things that they do and was blown away. He never asked who I was going to see next but wished me luck in my search.

Within a week, I met with the last of the organizations that I had a good inkling about. The Executive Director was a fellow runner and I was incredibly impressed with the operation they had. It met all of the criterion that we were looking for. He did go into some detail, having done some research on us, and gave me a bit of info on a sponsor of ours that might not participate for a pretty legit reason. Within 5 minutes, though, the question was asked, who else is in the running?

I mentioned Andrew and NeighborLink and it was like a light was turned on. He told me that as much as he’d love to work with our team, if I were to pick anyone else, NLFW was the way to go. He then spent 5-10 minutes singing their praises.

From that point forward, I knew what the plan was. We were running to benefit NeighborLink and there was no looking back.

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And from that point forward, Andrew and his team did everything they could to support our little group and our efforts only grew even further. In total, because of their support in helping spread the word about Runnin’ Not Walken and then as we changed over to Runners Doing Good, we raised approximately $15,000 over 2 1/2 fundraising campaigns (2 full campaigns plus a few months before Covid shut it all down).

The best moment for us was really when Andrew told us that the nearly $7500 we raised in Year 1 with them was going to help pay for furnaces that were being replaced or repaired for folks within the Fort Wayne area. His willingness to tie our efforts to a project they had was awesome and it helped us show our donors a tangible thing that we were able to accomplish.

He’s moved on from NeighborLink and we have as well as we supported a former teammate’s family this year but what we were able to do together is pretty special and we’re truly grateful and thankful for the opportunity to work together.

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