Back On My Feet

by on June 2, 2012

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There’s a homeless guy who lives in the park near my apartment. I’m convinced that he’s actually a superhero in disguise. There’s something different about him from the others who hang in the park. He combs his hair with a mirror, he works on his tan, and he uses his bags of stuff to do bicep curls. If you’re exercising, you have to some sort of positive outlook. That’s why I love what Back On My Feet is doing. They’re a Philadelphia, PA based non-profit that “promotes the self-sufficiency of people experiencing homelessness by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem.” No food. No shelter. Just running at first. (There are some programs for those who have had success with the running.) We’ve seen plenty of athletic programs used to promote achievement in youth–why not try it with adults?

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In April Back On My Feet has 378 active residential members. Since 9/08 they’ve had nearly a thousand members compete in a race. That’s great, but what’s more important is that they’re seeing improvement in the attitudes (and survey responses) of the people they work with. You can read about the results here. After Back On My Feet gets people running successfully (90% attendance in morning runs), they move them to the Next Steps program, which includes educational and job training opportunities. This is where “Residential Members meet with Back on My Feet Program staff to assess their current situation and develop a road map for an independent lifestyle.” If Members can keep up with the program, they “earn financial aid to help them move toward employment and permanent housing.” If you think that you can run with Back on My Feet, you should take a look at their internships on Idealist. Right now they’re looking for unpaid interns in Marketing and Fundraising (New York, NY), Accounting (Philadelphia, PA), and Program and Data Management (Philadelphia, PA). These look like really interesting positions, so check them out.

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