In this ongoing, exclusive blog series for TheHUB, Lindsay Baywol and Gina Kim chronicled their summer experience in the Diplomat Fellowship for Social Impact. Part of an annual program inviting college students from throughout the country to contribute their talents to Flint, the fellowship exposed them to organizations and residents who benefited from their gifts. As fellows, Lindsay and Gina had the opportunity to take a firsthand look at those who make the city one of proud people and traditions. This week they share their thoughts about the person they encountered who best personifies Flint.
The world according to Miss Flora
Working for the Crim Fitness Foundation as part of my Diplomat Fellowship, I met an amazing group of people belonging to the Flint Community Training Program. Whether site coordinators, group leaders, or participants, the Flint residents I encountered were passionate, resolute, and genuine in their desire to improve the city.
None of them stick out like Miss Flora.
At 84, Miss Flora trained with the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center for the Crim’s 8K this August.
Yes, you read that right—84 years old, trained for a five-mile race.
Talking to Miss Flora during a training group visit was a privilege. Her story was so memorable, I felt compelled to include it in the Crim’s biweekly newsletter.
Miss Flora grew up in Chattanooga, Tenn. and has been active all her life, starting out as a barefoot jogger in junior high.
Yes, jogging barefoot.
She still runs up and down her stairs, gardens, and shovels snow every winter. A few years ago, she even put a new roof on her house.
Miss Flora remembers her son feeling nervous about his mother being on the roof. But she leaned closer to me and recounted telling him, “I’m going up there. I’m not afraid.”
“There’s an old saying: ‘Nothing beats a failure but a triumph,’” she told me. “You have to try. And the ‘t’ on the end of ‘can’t’ means ‘try.’ It’s always been my motto.”
That statement resonated with me, in terms of my perspective of Flint. While Miss Flora was not born and raised in Flint, her tenacity and strength represent the spirit of the city—especially in the midst of the water crisis.
Flint, despite the negativity directed at it, continues to fight. Residents are striving to improve their community and make Flint a prosperous place for living and working. Like Miss Flora, they continue to persevere to create happier and healthier lives for themselves.
“I just always feel if I can put my mind to it and really get my strength up, then, when I succeed, I’m just so proud within myself.” Those are Miss Flora’s words, but they could easily be the words of Flint itself.
Miss Flora and other residents are determined to succeed. They will compete and persevere, no matter their age, background, history, or obstacles. They will complete the race. They will be proud.
Editor’s Note: Lindsay Baywol completed her fellowship with the Crim Fitness Foundation and returned to Michigan State University to complete her studies.
See TheHUB’s coverage of the 41st HAP Crim Fitness Foundation’s Festival of Races