Changing Lives One Stride at a Time Running to Combat Homelessness

Photo: Ben Ko Photography
Photo: Ben Ko Photography

 

Do you ever hear about these amazing organizations that are changing the world and think to yourself, “How did I not know about this?” Prepare to add one more to that list. Back on My Feet is a national non-profit that works to revolutionize the way our society approaches homelessness. Through the power of running, community support, and access to housing and employment resources, Back on My Feet has touched the lives of over 6,000 homeless people in America.

 

Back on My Feet recruits members at homeless and residential facilities and begins with a commitment to run three days a week. These runs start around 5:30 in the morning and range between two to five miles long. The logic behind the initial running phase is the belief that the first step towards success is to restore confidence, strength and self-esteem.

 

Marriott CEO, Arne Sorenson, connects with a Back on My Feet runner during an early morning run - Photo: Ben Ko Photography
Marriott CEO, Arne Sorenson, connects with a Back on My Feet runner during an early morning run – Photo: Ben Ko Photography

 

After 30 days of 90% commitment, members can start the second phase of the program, Next Steps, which provides educational support, job training programs, employment partnership referrals, and housing resources. Back on My Feet has multiple national and community partners that work towards the success of the program. A few partners include Accenture, Cigna, Marriott and Home Depot. Through the hard work and dedication of our partners, Back on My Feet has helped to employ over 2,300 of its members.

 

Since their launch in 2007, the organization has grown tremendously and is now operating in 12 cities across the nation. The newest chapter just opened on November 18th in San Francisco in accordance with National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Additionally, since her appointment in 2015, CEO Katy Sherratt has increased programmatic impact by 60%, grown revenues by 30%. She was also recently named one of 20 Women Who Are Changing The Sport Of Running (And The World) by Women’s Running. She was fist exposed to Back on My Feet through Accenture’s workforce development partnership with the nonprofit. After leaving Accenture and joining the Back on My Feet team, she helped to reshape the organization to be most efficient and effective.

 

Back on My Feet member and volunteers supporting each other while they finish a run - Photo: Ben Ko Photography
Back on My Feet member and volunteers supporting each other while they finish a run – Photo: Ben Ko Photography

 

Back on My Feet has demonstrated that something as simple as running can prove to strengthen individuals, build communities and transform lives. By using running as a catalyst to empower people struggling with homelessness to return to the workforce, the organization has impacted thousands. One story that highlights the extent of the impact Back on My Feet has made is the success of a woman named Sandra. Sandra went from living on the streets and no prior running experience to running 10ks, living in her own apartment and working again. She even claims that getting into the habit of running helped her quit her smoking addiction. The unbelievable transformations, such as Sandra’s, are truly inspiring.

 

From an economic standpoint, every $1 invested in Back on My Feet returns $2.50 to the local community by means of economic output and cost savings on temporary shelters, hospitalization costs, medical costs associated with physical inactivity, incarceration costs and treatment costs for drug and alcohol dependency. As far as the future goes, they are planning to grow and expand to even more cities across the US and maybe even internationally.

 

With the holiday season of giving in mind, Back on My Feet is always looking for volunteers to run with them at any of their 12 locations. Volunteers usually commit to at least one run every week. For more information, you can check out their website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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Written by Olivia Gartland

Profile photo of Olivia Gartland

Olivia is currently a student in Manhattan College School of Business studying Marketing and Computer Information Systems. She has had strong interest in social action throughout her life and continues to actively participate in related opportunities on campus.

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