(Contributed photo)

WATSONVILLE — Pajaro Valley Shelter Services presents the 33rd Annual Mother’s Day Run/Walk for Shelter Fundraiser on Sunday at Ramsay Park, 1301 Main St. in Watsonville.

The event will include a 10K run, 5K run/walk and a 1K kids’ fun run. Proceeds from the event support PVSS’ mission to empower families experiencing homelessness to gain economic self-sufficiency and move into stable housing.

The event include T-shirts, roses for mothers, medals for winners, continental breakfast and a live DJ. This year, families with strollers will be allowed in the event.
The first race was in 1984 and raised $8,000, with a small crowd in attendance. This year, PVSS expects more than 700 participants and 200 volunteers and spectators to help raise $80,000.

“The Mother’s Day Run has become a tradition,” said PVSS Executive Director Kimberly Ferm. “For many, there are three generations who do the run/walk together, and then go to brunch afterwards. It’s a great family tradition — to help end homelessness on Mother’s Day.”

PVSS owns and operates an emergency shelter (for women and children), two shelter annexes (for families with males over the age of 12 and for single fathers), 13 units of transitional housing, and four units of long-term supportive housing. PVSS has served more than 6,000 people since 1983, two-thirds of which are children.

A graduate of PVSS, Jessica Sanchez is currently a CSU Monterey Bay student, majoring in kinesiology.

Though continuously employed, she was in a domestic violence situation that created hardships for her and her two children.

“Even though staying is the worst thing you can do, when you don’t have stable housing, it becomes hard to leave,” she said.

After a four-month experience of homelessness with her two children, Sanchez found an environment at PVSS that allowed her to develop skills.

“I feel like I can be myself,” she said. “I’m grateful that I regained respect from my kids. Before leaving my partner, I didn’t have a say in anything. Now, my kids love me and feel proud of me, because now, I am a leader.”

The Mother’s Day Run can be enjoyed by attendees of all ages and skill levels, from the competitive runners to the weekend joggers to families who want to walk together.

Shannon Brock will be running the race for the third year.

“This race has a big heart and it shows on race days when you cross the finish line and you’re showered with applause, shouts of congratulations, and high fives by your neighbors and those who finished before you,” she said. “It makes you feel like a rock star no matter how fast or slow you went through the course.”

Starting and ending in Ramsay Park, the race route is a trek around Watsonville’s slough trails. The 10K and 5K races will be professionally timed.

Race-day registration and bib pick-up starts at 7 a.m. on Sunday. The course closes at 10:15 a.m. For information and registration, visit www.pvshelter.org or call 728-5649.

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