New here? This post explains what is going on.
Today, I’m featuring an organization that is new to me, but which I’m excited about nonetheless.
In its own words, “Back on My Feet is a nonprofit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless populations by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength, and self-esteem.” They have chapters all over the country. In Chicago, running groups that meet four times a week for early morning runs that start and finish at supportive housing residences throughout the city. Volunteers (“non-resident” team members) and residents run together, and residents set goals for running-related milestones that are celebrated by the group. Non-resident volunteers commit to running at least once a week, so that people really get to know each other and form community.
Like many of us, I suspect, I have been thinking a lot recently about community, and connection, and how important those things are for all of us. While it would be easy to say “running? self-esteem? Aren’t there bigger issues afoot here?” I found myself really drawn to this statement on the Back On My Feet website:
We use running as a vehicle to show individuals they are capable of accomplishing anything… but it’s not going to happen overnight – it takes hard work, dedication and perseverance. BoMF focuses heavily on teamwork – when we run, we run as a family and we support, encourage and motivate each other every step of the way. No one ever runs by themselves because life is a lot harder when you go through it alone.
A little cheesy? Maybe. But the idea of taking something simple like running and using it to forge actual connections between homeless men and women and volunteers who make a long-term commitment to a running group? That’s kind of great. And a program that gives men and women a means to build skills like perserverence and commitment and showing up on time – those are the kinds of “soft skills” that the research suggests can make a real difference for folks struggling to climb out of terribly difficult circumstances. So I’m going to give Back On My Feet some money, and in the new year, I’m going to join a running group. I’ll tell you how it goes.
As always, thanks for your comments and support.