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Run Like Jenny

March 4, 2019

How one Plant With Purpose supporter is using her love of running to plant more trees

Jenny Gruber is an engineer, a Plant With Purpose supporter and a marathon runner. While she had already ran 29 marathons going into the month, she wanted to do something a little bit more personal.

"As an adoptive parent," she notes, "I'm passionate about family preservation, which is so often impacted by poverty. I'm also passionate about stewardship of God's creation."

On the 20th of January, Jenny participated in the Houston Marathon. The race is the largest single day sporting event in the entire city. Its course starts near Minute Maid Park, extends through scenic communities on the way to Rice University, and finishes at the George Brown Convention Center.

Upon finishing the race, Jenny joined Ryan Hall, George W. Bush, and Meb Keflezighi as a few famous finishers of the event. But finishing this race was more than just a personal milestone for her. 

Ties to Fonds Verrettes and Ethiopia

In 2017, Jenny and her family were able to take a visit to Fonds-Verrettes. The community in Eastern Haiti is one where Plant With Purpose has worked for many years. She and her family had helped support many initiatives towards the community’s development, including Farmer Field Schools, Village Savings Groups, and church leader mobilization.

The area is one that has experienced much transformation, and she was encouraged by what she saw in person.

"Plant With Purpose's combination of spiritual and environmental restoration, economic empowerment, and sustainable development battles poverty and allows families to stay together," she observed, "and it does so with a long-term perspective."

"I was able to see the progress farmers were making and the results for those who had been in the program longer."

Jenny also grew excited to hear about Plant With Purpose’s launch in Ethiopia, a country that she and her family have many ties to through the adoption of her son.

This newest program for Plant With Purpose seeks to strengthen churches that are already actively engaging in creation care. This allows them to expand their conservation of surrounding forests. They also hope to increase sustainable agriculture practices to reduce problems like overgrazing and food insecurity.


Raising both funds and awareness

Jenny sought 100 people to donate a dollar for each mile of the marathon, or $26.20. The funds weren't the only objective for her.

One of Jenny’s main goals was to spread awareness of Plant With Purpose. She then sought donations from a wide network of friends, family, and community members. Even a gift of dollar would at least connect somebody new to the organization.

She also decided to say a prayer for every mile of the marathon, and ran with a bracelet featuring the names of people she had in mind to pray for. Among them were members of the Plant With Purpose team, and those in Haiti and Ethiopia.

Jenny found that Plant With Purpose’s focus resonated with her. Her family has now been connected to the mission for years.

Congratulations to Jenny! If you have any ideas for fundraisers in the year ahead, we’d love to lend our support and to hear about them! Please email [email protected] with your stories.


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