It’s a crazy idea, starting a running group for homeless people, but that’s how Back On My Feet (BoMF) began, with one runner thinking that helping nine men add a regular discipline to their lives might help them get them back on track.
Back on My Feet “Residential Members” (meaning homeless persons) are getting jobs and housing and improving their outlook on life, too. Seventy-eight percent are sure they’ll get a job they like and 94 percent are hopeful about the future while almost 900 have gotten jobs and over 600 have found a home.
It starts with running. Attendance, mileage and attitude are tracked on every run. After 30 days in the program, each Residential Member who maintains 90% attendance at the morning runs moves to Back on My Feet’s “Next Steps” phase.
In this phase, BoMF staff work with Residential Members “to build a road map toward self-sufficiency which includes financial literacy and skill-building classes with for-profit and nonprofit partners.” After training, members have access to interview and employment opportunities and are also offered financial assistance such as a security deposit for more permanent housing to overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.
That very first runner and founder of BoMF was Anne Malhum in Philadelphia. Now, BoMF has spread across the country with a new group starting in Los Angeles this year and other groups running in Austin, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York, City and Washington, D.C.
If you’re in any of those cities, you can sign up to run with a team on Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings or on Saturdays for longer runs.
The Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24 Challenge is coming up next month in Philadelphia with five races in one weekend July 20 and 21. Races include a Pajama Loop and Midnight Madness run in reflective gear. Teams, partners or lone rangers run the other three races.
There are also fundraising bashes (with formals and tennis shoes) and other social events throughout the year and gear you can buy on the BoMF website.
I have tried running and have found it to be a great way to stay in shape and keep a positive outlook on life. For some, running is a part of life like sleeping or eating that has to be done. If you’re one of those, consider sharing your addiction with people who need a healthy alternative to life on the streets.
Help them get back on their feet.