West Roxbury-Roslindale Bulletin: Roslindale resident running Boston Marathon for affordable housing

By Jeff Sullivan  March 13, 2019

Roslindale resident Dina Vargo said she’s run six marathons in the past, but the real big one has eluded her for years, that is, until now.

“I’ve only done some midsized cities and it’s been a fun way to see different places, but I think everyone wants to do Boston, it’s like the feather in the cap of all marathoners,” she said. “I mean it’s the historic marathon and you have to do Boston, every runner has to. For me, the timing was finally right and so here we are.”

Vargo is running to raise funds for Metro Housing Boston, a company working on the ground to raise money for residents in need of affordable housing. The nonprofit was founded in 1983 and works to keep people housed in the Greater Boston Area. It has raised millions for preventative services and representation of residents, and has had a team every year since 2006. Those teams have raised a combined $431,000 in 13 years, and Vargo said she wanted to do her part.

“I wanted to run the marathon for them because I know how important it is,” she said.  “I work in the affordable housing industry myself, but not on the deep grassroots level they do, so for me it was a natural connection. If I was going to run for a charity, I was going to run for Metro Housing Boston.”

Vargo said after training and running six marathons, that part of the deal at least isn’t so difficult anymore.

“I have a $7,000 fundraising goal, which is pretty intense,” she said. “I think I’m over halfway right now, but it’s actually much harder for me than training for the marathon. I know how to train, but besides hitting up my friends for donations?”

Vargo said she’s linked up with another member of her team to do trivia events and an author to talk at the Massachusetts State Library in the State House. Vargo is an author herself and discussed her book, the Hidden History of Boston.

“I’ve learned so much and met a ton of great people,” she said.

She added that despite her past experience with marathons, she’s still also looking for ideas to help improve her training, which is why she started boxing at the West Roxbury BoxSmith gym. “It’s just a great way to work your core and get those muscles you don’t always but probably should concentrate on,” she said.

Vargo said she started the book after working her other job running offbeat tours of the city, and also wrote ‘Wild Women of Boston’ in the same vein. She said a lot of the stories from the tours gave her ideas for the book.

“Right now I’m working on a tour, which will be the eighth one and we’re doing True Lies and False Facts,” she said. “I specialize in offbeat tours, so it’s not so much like the Freedom Trail, but different sorts of stories. This tour will have stories, some of which are true and some of which are false, and the people who participate get to choose what they think is true and it’s almost like a trivia competition. We get together and have a party and give out prizes to people who guessed best. The stories are just so bizarre and as they say, the truth is stranger than fiction. There are just so many oddball things here in Boston.”

She acknowledged that putting many of the true stories in her book may be somewhat of an advantage.

“Just read the books and you will get some clues,” she said with a laugh.

To donate to Vargo’s bid, go to http://bit.ly/dinaruns

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