Back On My Feet
There are so many worthy charities and ways to get involved in the community. One of my priorities with this blog is to highlight those opportunities.
Founded in 2007, by Ann Mahlum, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization began in Philadelphia. Currently operating in 12 major cities, BomF uses running and community to motivate and support homeless individuals and encourage their independence. My favorite thing about Back On My Feet (BomF) is that it ties together community and running.
The mission and vision of Back On My Feet, as stated on their website:
Back on My Feet seeks to revolutionize the way our society approaches homelessness. Our unique running-based model demonstrates that if you first restore confidence, strength and self-esteem, individuals are better equipped to tackle the road ahead and move toward jobs, homes and new lives. For all in need, we aim to provide: practical training and employment resources for achieving independence; an environment that promotes accountability; and a community that offers compassion and hope. For all with the capacity to serve—volunteers, donors, community and corporate partners—we seek to engage you in the profound experience of empowering individuals to achieve what once seemed impossible through the seemingly simple act of putting one foot in front of the other.
In 2010, I decided to raise money for BomF through my training for the Philadelphia Half-Marathon
. I had hoped to be able to volunteer with them on morning runs, but the runs conflicted (and still conflict) with my work schedule. Instead, I decided to FundRace. FundRacing is when you raise a specific amount of money in order to gain entry into a race. (Some FundRacing gets you into already closed out races, like London Marathon.) It kept me accountable and motivated; in the end, I was able to help an organization that deals with combating an issue I am passionate about in a city I love. I ended up having an amazing race that day, garnering a half-marathon PR that still stands. If you want to read my race report from that day, click here. (Oddly, I didn’t write anything about BomF in my whole report. Only just realized that upon re-reading.)
Here’s how the program works:
Back on My Feet recruits members at homeless and residential facilities around the country and begins with a commitment to run three days a week in the early morning. After 30 days in the program, members with 90% attendance earn the opportunity to move into the second phase of the program called Next Steps, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals and housing resources. Over 80% of individuals who start our program move into the Next Steps phase.
In Next Steps, members work with BoMF program staff to develop a personal road map to independence. Each member attends financial literacy classes and job skills training provided through partnerships with our corporate partners. Members can earn financial assistance to remove barriers to employment and housing such as work supplies, transportation and security deposits. Members who achieve employment and housing become Alumni Members. Within six months of becoming a Back on My Feet Alumnus, 90% of members maintain their employment, 60% receive a wage increase and 20% achieve a promotion.
I may never live to see the day when we can put an end to homelessness, but I am confident that with programs like BomF, we can restore the hopes of many on the streets. Running offers powerful lessons for life. Running teaches us about setting and meeting goals, tenacity in getting to those goals and the amazing feeling of reaping the rewards of hard work when you reach the goal. Running encourages self-confidence and price in oneself, no matter what your background. Running inspires, motivated and encourages, no matter what your social status. As the saying goes, “If you run, you are a runner.” – John Bingham (And Jillian)
If you are interested in volunteering, FundRacing, or simply learning about more about BomF, their comprehensive website has all of the information, including links to each chapter. In addition to Philadelphia where BomF is headquartered, you can find chapters in the following cities: Atlanta, GA, Austin, TX, Baltimore, MD , Boston, MA, Chicago, IL , Dallas, TXIndianapolis, IN, Los Angeles, CA, New York City, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC and as of late 2016, San Francisco, CA.
Have you ever run for a charity? What was your basis for choosing the charity?