Thursday, February 07, 2013

Back On My Feet- Austin

Recently I signed up to be a volunteer with Back On My Feet.  To explain what Back On My Feet is, here is an excerpt from their website:

"Back on My Feet partners with local facilities (emergency shelter, mission, halfway house, etc.) and holds orientation sessions to introduce the program to residents. To join, residents must have lived at the facility for at least 30 days. Residential Members joining the program complete a dedication contract, goals sheet and evaluation survey. Running teams consisting of Residential Members (those experiencing homelessness) and Non-Residential Members (community volunteers) are formed at each facility.

All teams run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 5:30 a.m., with longer, optional runs on Saturdays for those training for half marathons, full marathons or more. Members attend monthly social events and local races. Attendance, mileage and attitude are tracked on every run. After 30 days in the program, each Residential Member who maintains 90% attendance at the morning runs moves to Back on My Feet’s “Next Steps” phase.

In the Next Steps phase of the program, Residential Members meet with BoMF Program staff to assess their current situation and develop a road map for an independent lifestyle. Members have access to educational and job training opportunities, and through dedication to the program, can apply for financial aid to help them move toward employment and more permanent housing. Members can use Back on My Feet’s financial aid to address barriers to self-sufficiency including outstanding fines, tools for a job, transportation, education, certifications and security deposits. On average, nearly 75 percent of Members are in the Next Steps phase of the program – a true testament to the efficacy and sustainability of the program"

I will be running once a week with the group. The first walk/run was the inaugural run where we had over 100 people that all ran together. Then my 2nd run with them was the start of the individual runs. It was during the 2nd walk I met Milton. We walked together for the entire mile and talked along the way.  He is a gentleman who lost work and was unable to find a job for an extended period of time and it led to him being homeless.

The Non-Residential Members (the volunteers) walk Monday, Wednesday and/or Fridays (you can choose to walk on any day, but they ask that it is consistant).  I find it is a simple thing to do to help give a person somebody to talk to or be there to support while they get their life in order!

Our inaugural run on Jan 28th- I believe there were over 100 people at this run. 


Once we were done with our 1 mile run, the finishers created a tunnel for the rest of the runners to go through. It was fun to run through a crowd full of people clapping and yelling for you :)

After the run I volunteered at the Back on Your Feet fundraising breakfast.  I helped direct traffic :)

I was lucky enough to get a spot at a table at the breakfast and listen to the presenters. 

I wrote this post back in early Feb but never published it. I am still walking once a week with the group and enjoying seeing every one and hearing about their weekly accomplishments. Getting up at 4:50am to meet up with the group is tough but nothing compared to what the residents are going through.