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Back on My Feet: Running for a Future

By Sarah Joyner | 1/14/17 9:27am | Updated 1/14/17 9:27am

Back on Our Feet runners met at 5:30 a.m. for their tri-weekly run.

Julienne DeVita / American Word Magazine

Although it was only founded in 2007, Back on My Feet already has a huge national outreach. They have bases all across the country, from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., with a total of twelve chapters in the U.S. They work with homeless men and women to try and bring them into a community environment and therefore prepare them for jobs and future success.

Here’s how the program works: Back on My Feet representatives visit homeless facilities to recruit members. Individuals who join immediately participate in a plan that involves running early in the morning for three days a week. Members who consistently show up to run for one month are moved forward into a group that puts them through job training, educational support groups, housing resources and employment referrals. Back on My Feet calls this their Next Step program, and they have a great success rate – 80 percent of participants in the initial running plan make it into the second program.

And their help sticks. Ninety percent of participants who find jobs through Back on My Feet maintain and excel in their jobs. Many individuals are promoted within six months. Back on My Feet explains its message very carefully. The organization first attempts to restore confidence and self-esteem, and it encourages a healthy sense of community before the recruits even think about jobs and job training. By the time one month is up, members are integrated into a new, positive group of people who are more than willing to cheer them on.

As of 2015, Back on My Feet has worked with more than 6,000 men and women ranging from 18 to 65 years old. The organization claims that for every dollar donated, $2.50 is returned back to the community through increased economic activity in the area. The health of participant runners also improves every day, and the runners’ entire social outlook skyrockets, as does their confidence and self-esteem.

Want to get involved?

Every Back on My Feet volunteer is asked to attend one 60-minute orientation, and then they can lead a team almost immediately. You can also FundRace, which is when the organization guarantees you a spot in a race and the only requirement is that you fundraise a certain amount of money for the cause. If running isn’t for you, they also have community events throughout the month, every month, available on their website. They’re newsletter, too, is easy to sign up for and is easily accessible on their site.

Until their expansion, started in San Francisco in November of 2016, is complete, their mission continues as promised. “For all in need,” said Thomas Farren, a Back on My Feet representative, “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.”