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March 18, 2002

Refugee organizations to benefit from annual Lullwater 5K

By Eric Rangus


Volunteer Emory will host its fifth annual 5K run/walk, “Get Fit To Volunteer,” Saturday, March 23, at 10 a.m. in Lullwater Park.

Get Fit To Volunteer is VE’s primary vehicle to raise funds for community organizations. This year, the money raised will benefit groups that assist refugees in the Atlanta area.

“Around 70,000 refugees resettle in the United States each year, and thousands of those come to Atlanta,” said Hildie Cohen, director of Volunteer Emory. The 2002 run/walk is the second Cohen is overseeing as VE director.

As an Emory College senior and VE staff member in 1998, Cohen helped plan the first run/walk.

Last year’s 5K drew more than 100 participants and raised $1,300 to benefit geriatric care in the Atlanta area. It was the most successful “Get Fit” to date in both fundraising and participation, and this year should prove to be even better. Cohen said the pledges and registration fees already collected have almost bested the 2001 fundraising total.

Taking part in the 5K is simple. VE will set up registration tables in the Dobbs Center, March 18–20. Registration fees are $10 for faculty/staff/visitors and $5 for students. Runners also can register the day of the race beginning at 9:30 a.m. Registration forms are available in the VE office in the Dobbs Center, 239E, as well.

The course winds its way through Lullwater Park, and all participants will earn t-shirts. Prizes will go to the top male and female walkers and runners. Random participants will receive prizes as well. Refreshments will be provided.
In planning the event each year, the VE staff brainstorms to identify a beneficiary.

“We send applications to the organizations we work with,” Cohen said. “After the run, we review the returned applications, then decide how the money is distributed.”

With Atlanta’s increasingly diverse population, refugee resettlement is becoming a more important issue. The fact that many refugees come from poor countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America only complicates the mission of refugee organizations.

Cohen listed several organizations—the International Rescue Committee, the Georgia Mutual Assistance Association Consortium and the Newcomer’s Network—who may be eligible to receive funds. Because of the many worthwhile charities, Cohen said, money raised by the 5K most likely will be spread out among multiple groups.

The International Rescue Committee, which has an office in Decatur, is helping VE promote the 5K and has invited The Lost Boys of Sudan to participate. The Lost Boys is a national organization that assists the thousands of Sudanese who have fled their war-torn land over the last 20 years. Hundreds of those refugees have settled in Atlanta.