Regina Suttle, Director of Events
How long have you been serving with BridgeBuilders? Over 14 years! I was volunteering with BridgeBuilders before I came on staff 6 years ago.
How did you get involved? Some friends from my small group at my church convinced me to come to Bonton one Saturday morning. We got out of the car and the only thing they said to me was “Make Relationships.” I spent the rest of the day walking up and down Valentine St. (the street I now live on) picking-up trash and meeting kids in the neighborhood. I immediately fell in love with all of them! That is how I got involved and after that Saturday, I never stopped coming down. All I wanted for these kids was for them to have the same opportunities I had growing up as a kid. About 5 years ago Girls on the Run (GOTR) wanted to add a team in Bonton. [GOTR is a national organization working with BridgeBuilders, that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running] I was reluctant at first because I had a lot going on, but I’m glad I stuck with it. GOTR has been such a positive and empowering outreach to the girls here. It has really allowed us to build a sisterhood with the girls and their parents.
How are you connecting your love of running/children with Bonton? Running has always been such a calming activity for me. It is a huge stress reliever especially in the midst of [this] chaos. I love that it’s something you can do anywhere, no matter how much money you have or where you live. It’s been great to see all of the girls really start to enjoy running and not only benefit from the physical aspect but also the psychological/emotional aspects.
What’s your favorite part about serving this community? The different people and personalities; there is a real sense of family in this neighborhood. The relationships and friendships that I have formed with co-workers, volunteers, mothers and fathers that I never would have had I not decided to come down when my friends invited me.
What makes you continue to come down here on the “hard days?” Being consistent. I think that is one thing that makes me come back day after day even when I am discouraged and don’t want to. So many of these kids lack consistency in every area of their lives. So, the one thing I can give them is knowing that even though we had a hard day yesterday, or you lied, or you got caught fighting; each day is a new day, and we are going to learn from our mistakes, forgive, move on and try to do better. I think it’s also important that they understand that nothing they say or do is going to stop me from loving them. Will you be held accountable for your actions? Yes, but will I still love you and be there for you the next day ABSOLUTELY! I also know that some of my worst days are nothing in comparison to what some of these kids go through every day.
Any particular life change you have witnessed in the girls? I love that through GOTR we have formed a small sorority of girls who are learning to run, love themselves and have fun. It took 2 or 3 seasons and a lot of work for the girls to learn what it’s like to be part of a team. I have loved watching them really take care of each other and hold each other accountable. I love watching them encourage each other to do better and try harder.
Yesterday was our first day of practice for the new season and we had all the girls run a mile. It was really cool to run behind one of our girls and listen to her encouraging each of her teammates as she ran by them. It brought tears to my eyes because she was saying it with such conviction; she really meant it! We also had another moment where all of the girls had finished except for one and 2 of the girls ran back to finish with her. I love watching them love and care for one another. I love seeing them embrace what we are teaching them and challenging them to grow and be better.