GMMA Day 3: Back On My Feet Chicago


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 givesĀ  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.


26 Responses to GMMA Day 3: Back On My Feet Chicago

  1. Elissa says:

    Really interesting idea, and hope you will enjoy running!

  2. Hillary says:

    I really think runners are, as a whole, the nicest people.

  3. Anne says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of this charity before.

  4. Alice says:

    This is a new one for me too! Love it. Donation ahoy :)

  5. Katie says:

    New one for me as well, and I like the innovative strategy.

  6. Erica says:

    You better join a group with other tall people.

  7. Kelly says:

    Great organization!

  8. K says:

    I’m not sure which I love more: you helping all of these wonderful charities or seeing your posts in my Reader each morning.

  9. Amy says:

    I heard about this org a few weeks ago on the Another Mother Runner website. Neat concept!

  10. Kristabella says:

    What a great charity! I’ve never heard of them!

  11. animalcrackers says:

    I like this so much!

  12. Gretchen says:

    Thank you!

  13. I need to go for a run… ;-)

  14. Melissa says:

    Such a neat idea. Yay running!

  15. Miriel says:

    I LOOOOVE Back On My Feet. Such a neat idea.

  16. Miranda says:

    Very cool! Whatever works, you know?

  17. Sounds like an interesting charity.

  18. Lawyerish says:

    Great find! The first time I ran the NYC marathon, I ran with an organization that uses running as part of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. I got to be a “guide” for a runner who had been an addict, and I can tell you, the difference that running had made in those people’s lives was immense. So I truly believe in the empowerment that running can bring to people. Bravo for supporting this charity, friend!

  19. Silvia says:

    Now I’m inspired to run

  20. Swistle says:

    This whole week is becoming a favorite Christmas tradition.

    (Er. No pressure.)

  21. Nic says:

    Sounds like an awesome org!

  22. christina says:

    Very innovative!!

  23. Matti says:

    I really like this organization, though it’s a new one for me too!

  24. Sarah in Ottawa says:

    I can’t wait to hear about this in the new year, K!

  25. Auntie G says:

    Interesting idea! I like it!