Following Their Lead

Nov 26, 2018

“Ms. Marissa, are we going to keep together during the race?” asked Andrea, a Teens Club student, as the two lined up. “Yes! We’re going to start and finish together,” Ms. Marissa replied.


As the announcer proclaimed, “Go!” Andrea and Marissa took off with the other runners in the annual Casa Chirilagua 5k. Andrea started out running so confidently that Marissa ran with her. As runners of all paces spread out along the course, Andrea and Marissa ran together at a steady clip. Then after a few more minutes of running, Andrea looked at Marissa and asked, “Can we maybe walk for a bit?” Marissa replied, “I’m willing to go whatever pace you want to go – we’ll finish when we finish.” As they began to walk and talk, they enjoyed the time together. They caught up on life, made jokes, and soaked in the colorful fall leaves along the course.


After a while, Andrea exclaimed, “OK! I’m ready to run again!” Together they took off once again, running side by side. As the race continued, Andrea set the pace when to walk and when to run, and Marissa followed her lead. As the end of the race neared, they caught up to Andrea’s friend Victoria. She had been waiting for them so that they could cross the finish line together. Marissa felt very touched by this as the three joined together towards the finish.


When they ran across the finish line together, Marissa was reminded of others in youth programs leading one another with patience. She thought of Andrea leading at her own pace at the 5k and Leo taking charge of a fractions game during Kids Club to help a younger student understand math concepts. And, she reflected on Local Leaders helping one another learn how to manage student behavior this school year – the first for two of them.


In all this she felt grateful for the many ways she’s been able to walk alongside students and Local Leaders as they lead. At Casa we are grateful to walk with community members by following their lead, and this year’s 5k was a great physical reminder of that truth.



See more photos of this event on our Facebook photo album

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.