If you’re an avid runner who wants to give back, this may just be for you: Back on My Feet fights homelessness “through the power of running, community support, and essential employment and housing resources”. Operating in 12 major cities across the US, Back on My Feet helps homeless individuals gain independence by providing “practical training and employment resources for achieving independence; an environment that promotes accountability; and a community that offers compassion and hope”.
What differentiates Back on My Feet from other running programs? CEO Katy Sherratt explained, “[Our] programmatic approach to combatting homelessness and addiction is really unique: we use running as a catalyst to build community, and then provide individuals in our program (members) with training, employment, and housing resources with the goal of helping them to self-sufficiency.”
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She continued, “Once a member or volunteer gets out on a run with us, it’s easy to recognize how running, this seemingly simple the concept, can be the spark. Running is an incredibly inclusive sport with limited barriers and relatively little training required, and in our circle, nobody runs alone. Members are supported and cheered on by our community, building one mile into two, two into 3, and eventually running full marathons and ultras if they choose to. If you think about it, running can really mirror life – a 3-mile run or marathon, it’s a journey – you have the highs, the lows, and then there’s the finish line. With hard work and determination, you can finish that race, get that medal, and in our member’s worlds, get that job, education or apartment to call their own.
“And, while running is the foundation of our program, getting out to an early morning run is just the first step that Back on My Feet takes in helping the homeless transform their lives. Our program teaches members the importance of commitment by offering the Next Steps phase of our program, where after 30 days of a 90% attendance rate, members have the opportunity to attend job skills training and earn financial aid to remove barriers to employment and housing. To date, Back on My Feet has helped 5.5k+ members achieve jobs and homes, and have supported 2.1k+ members in receiving further education and job training.”
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And why should you get involved with Back on My Feet? Katy said, “Our program de-stigmatizes one of our country’s most pressing societal issues and brings a diverse group of individuals together three times a week to support one another as they tackle the road ahead. When you’re standing in a circle at 5:30am in the morning for a Back on My Feet run, it’s hard to tell who’s standing next to you – it could be a CEO from one of our corporate partners, a college student, a stay-at-home-mom, a Back on My Feet staff member, or an individual who is trying get their life back on track. The community that emerges there is incredibly empowering.
“So whether someone is interested in getting involved as a volunteer, joining our board, donating, or becoming a corporate sponsor, you’re putting one step forward in making a profound difference in the lives of the homeless while also becoming a part of a community of changemakers.”
For more information, including finding a local chapter and ways to get involved, check out www.BackonMyFeet.org.
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