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Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016

Berkshire HR leader runs 10K for children in care

Kelly O’Brien’s dedication to youth and families that Berkshire Farm Center serves extends far beyond her workday as the child welfare agency’s director of human resources. O’Brien signed up to run a 10K in Atlantic City, N.J. and will use the event to raise $1,000 in donations to support the children Berkshire serves.

“I am passionate about all of Berkshire’s programs,” O’Brien explained. “Our programs, whether it’s foster care, or community and residential services, help kids heal from trauma and move forward. I love being a part of that.”  O’Brien said she hopes the money she raises can help Berkshire provide more children in care with everyday child experiences, such as attending soccer camp or taking horseback riding lessons for the first time.

Running—for beginners
Now an avid runner and running advocate, her relationship with the sport began only a few years ago. When asked by her group of coworkers, who also doubled as her running group, if she wanted to join them in training for a half marathon, Kelly O’Brien laughed and turned them down. With little to no running experience under her belt and the 13.1-mile race less than three months away, she thought the idea impossible, or at least painful.

O’Brien’s entire group of women running partners then registered for the April race, and that was all the motivation she needed. She made it her mission over the next few months to learn everything she could about long distance running. “I committed myself to researching how to train for a half marathon,” said O’Brien. “I bought a pair of sneakers and drafted a training plan that would prepare me for a half marathon.”

She realized her undeniable love for running when she crossed finish line and saw her friends had surprised her by traveling to New York to cheer her on in the pouring rain. “I ran the 13.1 miles in two and a half hours and cried crossing the finish line when I saw my friends standing there,” said O’Brien. “It was so exhilarating and I’ve been running ever since.”

Finding support in the office
O’Brien’s personal goal is to race in every state in the country, and she can already check off New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Tennessee, Rhode Island and Vermont from the list. Her team at Berkshire encourages O’Brien to achieve this goal by making sure she leaves the office each day in time for training runs, and bought her a copy of Runner’s World magazine, with updated training plans. Along with supporting O’Brien in her personal endeavors, Berkshire fulfills her professional life as well. “I feel so lucky and blessed to work at Berkshire,” said O’Brien. “Our Human Resources team and agency leadership allow me to learn and expand my career, and the way Berkshire values its employees is something I haven’t found anywhere else.” 

O’Brien fundraises through Crowdrise with the goal of reaching $1,000 before the race on October 22. Please visit her Crowdrise Page to learn more about how to support her effort.    Kelly will run the 10K race as part of the 2016 AmeriHealth New Jersey Atlantic City Marathon weekend along the beaches of the Atlantic City boardwalk.

About Berkshire:
From Plattsburgh to Long Island and Buffalo to Canaan, Berkshire Farm Center and Services for Youth provides innovative programs that strengthen New York State’s children and families so they can live safely, independently, and productively in their home communities. Berkshire’s full continuum of care offers home-based family preservation, foster care, group home, residential treatment, and drug and alcohol treatment services. Learn more about Berkshire at www.berkshirefarm.org.

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