Zion, 20, has been going to JCCA’s Kesher, an after-school program for at-risk Orthodox teens in Queens, almost every day for the past five years. I was kind of a trouble maker when I was younger. I was having problems because my parents broke up, although they got back together later. The Center is a nice, safe place where you can talk to people, make friends and get help–they don’t judge you.

The Center has assisted Zion with academic tutoring and counseling, and offered him a way to blow off steam and socialize with recreational activities like basketball, a workout gym, Ping-Pong and a pool table. When asked why he is doing the 5K Run, Zion responds, Rabbi Ginian (the Center’s director) is a great mentor and counselor really a great man who’s helped me a lot. All the staff is good and the Center is like a second home to me. I’m doing the Run because I want to raise money for the Center & I like to give back. My friends at the Center are running, too, and my parents are supporting me. Zion now works as an Emergency Medical Technician but is planning to become a Firefighter Paramedic in the future.