Back on My Feet, a nonprofit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of homeless people by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem, is officially in New York City. And like all New Yorkers, they made their presence known. Two hundred members, volunteers and supporters gathered at Central Park on April 10 for an inaugural one-mile run that ended in the heart of Times Square.
Back on My Feet is a six- to nine-month program that works with people living in homeless facilities. According to its website, teams are formed at partner facilities, where the foundation of Back on My Feet is laid through dedication to running. After 30 days in the program, each member who maintains 90% attendance moves to the Next Steps phase. Next Steps enables members to move toward self-sufficiency through educational and job-training opportunities. There are chapters already established in Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Dallas; Indianapolis; and Atlanta.
Members of Back on My Feet join together to move their own lives forward, as well as the lives of their teammates — regardless of race, education or socioeconomic status. As runners neared the finish line during the New York City launch, fellow members cheered for them, held up encouraging signs and were met with hand shakes, high fives and pats on the back. If you’ve ever crossed a finish line, you know that feeling of accomplishment and pride: The cheers from the crowd, the sincere faces of people who want you to finish strong — it’s a very powerful thing. Back on My Feet is harnessing the power of running to give people in need a second chance. (Check out the positive energy from the crowd in the video clip below.)
New York City has welcomed the organization with open arms so far. Yesterday, 10 of their first residential members from Bowery Mission got to ring the closing bell at Nasdaq, and the first 50 residential members were recently outfitted in new shoes and running gear from specialty running store Jack Rabbit Sports.
Psyched to help? Check out Backonmyfeet.org. You can sign up for a volunteer orientation (you must commit to run with a team at least one morning per a week), make a tax-deductible donation, become a sponsor or purchase some fabulous merch (all proceeds go to Back on My Feet and buys a member a new pair of running shoes!). You’ll be making a difference in someone’s life, as well as your own.