On any given morning, you can find DC’s streets crowded with runners. Washingtonians run to shed stress, work the heart and balance the chemicals. Running builds muscle, but more importantly, it builds confidence.
That is why one national non-profit, Back on My Feet, is harnessing the running buzz to help create self-sufficiency in the lives of those experiencing homelessness. The organization founded a chapter here in 2011, and in March celebrated five years and four shelter locations in the District.
The Back on My Feet program starts with a simple pledge: show up every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning at 6 am for a run with other members. Be on time, respect yourself, support your teammates.
There are three kinds of Back on My Feet team members. Residential Members are people who are experiencing homelessness (but using a residential facility) and are enrolled in Back on My Feet. Non-Residential Members volunteer to run with the Back on My Feet Team. And Alumni Members have completed the program and are both employed and living independently. All three groups make up an extremely diverse team of people working to support each other.
Over time, Residential Members’ dedication to the program is rewarded with job training, employment opportunities (through local partners like Marriott, Hilton, Safeway, Suntrust and CVS) and housing resources.
The program’s success is measured in how many Members obtain independence, and those numbers are growing. In DC, over the span of about eight years, 539 Residential Members have been served, 207 Members have obtained employment, 100 Members have obtained housing, and 51,051 miles have been run by Residential Members alone.
But more than numbers, the impact of Back on My Feet can be felt through the changing lives of Residential Members, like Hermon and Lee, who have shared their personal stories with the Back on My Feet community.
While you can get involved with Back on My Feet at any time of year, this summer would be a particularly opportune moment to join, as the organization is planning three DC runs (a relay, half marathon and a 5K) this coming October. You can read more about these races here and you can prepare your running legs by attending morning Back on My Feet runs (orientation sign up here) at one of five DC locations, including start points near Union Station, Judiciary Square and Petworth.
Back on My Feet is a national non-profit with chapters in twelve major cities -- including Washington, DC -- across the country. To get involved with Back on My Feet as a donor, corporate sponsor or partner, visit the Washington DC chapter of Back on My Feet website here. To learn more about the organization's mission or model, visit the Back on My Feet homepage here.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/_back_on_my_feet_running_to_end_homelessness_in_dc/9971
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