When CRCers Diana Whitney and Johnny Sadoff first heard about Back on My Feet (BoMF), they liked the idea of being able to do what they love–run–while helping people get their lives back on track. For those of you that aren’t familiar with BoMF:
Back on My Feet (BoMF) 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, as well as critical work and life skills. Back on My Feet (BoMF) does not provide food nor does it provide shelter, but instead provides a community that embraces equality, respect, discipline, teamwork and leadership. BoMF has chapters in 7 cities nation-wide–the Boston chapter has five teams based out of shelter facilities all over Boston. Each team is made up of shelter residents and non-resident volunteers that meet 3-4 mornings a week to run together. Team members also participate in monthly races and social events. After 30 days in the program, members who maintain 90% attendance are connected with educational and job training opportunities. Over the course of 6-9 months in the program, members work toward earning a $1,250 grant to assist in their efforts toward self-sufficiency.
In March of 2011, Johnny and Diana became team coaches for BomF Boston’s Somerville team, whose members draw from several shelters run by Somerville Homeless Coalition in Davis Square.
Says Diana of the experience: “All of us can list reasons why we run: the incomparable closeness of being part of a team, our dedication to a unified goal, thephysical exhilaration of a race well run. Above all, I think many of us love runningbecause it is symbolic of life, of finding the inner strength to overcomeobstacles. Johnny and I have had the privilege of sharing this love ofrunning with the men and women we coach. Their biggest challenge is not gettingup at 5:45 AM to run three times a week (a challenge for many of us!), but finding the courage to overcomemajor life hurdles. Many have lengthy histories of alcohol and drug abuse, havedone time in prison, or are victims of sexual and physical abuse. All tolerate the difficulties of shelter living on a dailybasis. We’ve gotten to watch team members gain the self-confidence they need to accomplish first smallgoals (running one mile, finishing a 5K), and then to make significant life changes(sobriety, permanent housing). It’s an amazing progression. The experience hasbeen humbling. It doesn’t always work, of course; all too often, somebody stops showing up for team runs and we later that he or she has fallen back into old patterns. But sometimes the process does work, which is of course what makes coaching so incredibly worthwhile.”
CRCers Rebecca Nisetich, Katie O’Connor, Merideth Stanford Kim Coughlan, and Carrie Mallozi also run with Back on My Feet teams in Boston. Want to get involved? Check out: http://boston.backonmyfeet.org/Get-Involved.html or email Diana at firstname.lastname@example.org to hear more.