Back On My Feet – Philadelphia

THE BEGINNING

Anne Mahlum, Founder and President, would pass by a homeless shelter every morning on her daily run and began to develop a rapport with the men outside on the corner. What started out as waves and smiles from a distance became more intimate as they developed a comfort level with one another. And one morning a simple idea stopped her in her tracks.

With a call to the shelter and the astounding support from the community and the media, Back on My Feet was up and running. The first run took place on Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007 at 6 a.m.,and now the organization continues to grow and has a rich program to supplement its community of runners, members and volunteers.

MISSION, VISION AND PHILOSOPHY

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.

Back on My Feet envisions a community where all members have the support and motivation required to move towards self –sufficiency. Every major city has a homeless problem and while providing food and shelter are very important basic needs, something is missing. We work to rebuild, revive and re-energize individuals. It is only when we have self-respect and self-confidence that we are truly able to move forward. Back on My Feet focuses on helping our members find a road of happiness, hope and opportunity, which includes a stable job and a place to live. This is our goal and we will get there one step at a time.

Back on My Feet does not provide food nor does it provide shelter, but instead provides a community that embraces equality, respect, discipline, teamwork and leadership. There are no labels, no stigmas and no stereotypes. At Back on My Feet, all members – regardless of race, education or socioeconomic status – join together to move their own lives forward as well as the lives of their teammates.


STRATEGY

Back on My Feet teaches critical work and life skills, such as discipline, leadership, and goal-setting that help lead our members toward a road filled with hope, happiness, opportunity and prosperity. The organization’s comprehensive program includes connections to BoMF’s job training and workforce development partners and offers assistance with education and housing expenses. The member benefits of Back on My Feet are not free – they are earned through the currency of attitude, commitment, teamwork, respect and perseverance.

HOW DOES RUNNING HELP THE HOMELESS SITUATION

To solve any problem you have to get at its core. We have all been on rocky roads in life and some people have unfortunately found themselves on a road without a home. BoMF does not provide food for the homeless nor does it provide shelter. While those are very important basic needs that all human beings deserve, we provide a program that teaches people to believe in themselves because it doesn’t matter if you have 20 homes or 0 homes; if you don’t have confidence in yourself it’s very difficult to move forward.

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.

HOW WE ARE FUNDED

Back on My Feet is an intensely diverse family that is built on the foundation of unity, strength, teamwork, leadership, support, trust, love and hope. We come together to run at least three days a week to move our own lives forward and those of our teammates. In addition to accomplishing mileage goals, our members are furthering their education, getting jobs, quitting smoking, eating better, feeling better, smiling more and hugging tighter. It’s truly a beautiful thing to be a part of and we need your support to keep growing.

The demand for the BoMF program is high. With your help, the number of individuals we can help is limitless. It costs approximately $100 to add a new member to the program. To host a member for an entire year, which includes earned access to our financial aid program that is used for housing-related and career-related expenses as well as the opportunity for educational scholarships, it costs BoMF an average of $1,800.

GET INVOLVED

We are proud to have more than 125 active volunteers (Non-Residential members) and are always looking for fun, enthusiastic and committed people to join our team. We value your participation at BoMF and are grateful for whatever commitment you can make. We ask for at least 1 morning per week – anything above and beyond that is up to you and your availability. The morning, whether it is Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, is up to you, and can change from week to week.

You will also find yourself among a broad spectrum of competitive and recreational runners to beginning runners and walkers. Some are in training, some are beginning, some run for fun – whatever your ability or interest, there is certainly a place for you! There are currently five BoMF teams in Philadelphia with a sixth to launch in West Philadelphia in the near future. The following are the locations, times and current distances of the teams:

Our Brother’s Place: 10th & Spring Garden Map 5:30am 1-6 mile runs
New Jerusalem Now: 2011 W. Norris St. Map 5:40am 1-4 mile runs
Ready, Willing and Able: Broad & Bainbridge Map 5:30am 1-4 mile runs
Somerset: Broad & Parrish Map 5:30am 1-6 mile runs
St. John’s Hospice: 1221 Race St. Map 5:30am 1 – 4 miles
COMING SOON TO WEST PHILADELPHIA


An integral part of the BoMF program is the introduction of longer runs on Saturday mornings for teams that are reaching training milestones. These runs can vary in time of departure, distance of run and start location.

If you’re not a runner, but would still like to get involved or have other talents to share with Back on My Feet Philadelphia, please let us know. We’re currently seeking volunteers to help plan events and campaigns like the 180 Challenge, our Annual Bash on September 27th, or Sneaker Week during National Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week in November.

If you would like to receive information on getting involved with BoMF, click here to email Caitlin Chin.

Learn more about Back on My Feet – Philadelphia by visiting them online at www.backonmyfeet.org.

Click here to subscribe to Philly Involved’s monthly newsletter.