Runners turn out in force to aid Sister Evelyn Mourey Center

5K Harvest Run/Walk & Harvest Fair runners make it to the finish line with a sense of accomplishment
5K Harvest Run/Walk & Harvest Fair runners make it to the finish line with a sense of accomplishment

EL CENTRO – Sister Evelyn Mourey Center (SEMC) held its first annual “Fall into Fitness 5K Harvest Run/Walk & Harvest Fair” on Saturday, October 24, at the Carlos Aguilar Park in El Centro.

Saturday’s event attracted runners from Imperial County to Mexicali, and from children to seniors.  Participants in the three mile run supported the many programs of the charity.

Odyssey Gastelum, 1st place winner, ran in a pair of unique Luna Sandals made by an Indian Mexican Tribe in Seattle. Rodolfo Tye from Mexicali took 2nd place and El Centro resident Fausto Payan, 3rd.

“I enjoy running and today is an example. My Luna Sandals are very comfortable, they are like tennis shoes, but make your foot stronger,” said Gastelum of Brawley.

“Our goal is to bring wellness, awareness, and to help fight poverty in the Imperial County,” said Annette Leon, SEMC, board secretary.

“We offer classes for those re-entering the work force, including GED courses. If they are not at the community college level, we help get them there,” said Leon.

The SEMC offers several classes ranging from English as a second language, basic computer skills, to cake decorating, citizenship, and enrichment presentations.

Besides education, other SEMC programs include emergency food, USDA commodities distribution, shelter programs, and Sisters’ Closet emergency clothing.

In May 2015, SEMC opened Sisters’ Closet (a clothing boutique). SEMC provides gently used clothing to support the emergency clothing needs of families who are either homeless or at a risk of homelessness, individuals seeking employment, and students returning to school.

“I found out about this event today and decided to come here and get as much information as I can for my friend who is in desperate need,” said Maria Ochoa. “I feel confident that this organization can help her.”

Several agencies displayed resource tables with pamphlets of information and assistance programs. Zumba classes let others dance and exercise.

The Sister Evelyn Mourey Center, founded by Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, is a non-profit charitable organization located in El Centro and has been serving the Imperial County for over 20 years.

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