Series | Catalysts

Racing out of homelessness

Watch on YouTube

It’s 5am in New York City. Most people aren’t awake yet; a few might still be up from the night before. But a group of people with a special organization is gathering for a morning run. Back on My Feet is a nonprofit community that’s helping people struggling with homelessness or recovering from drug addiction begin their journey towards self-sufficiency: employment, housing, and a sustainable income. While members might not be able to jog very far at first, they take their first steps with the encouragement of volunteers, program coordinators, and fellow members. Eventually, many of them run 5ks, or even the New York City marathon. All in all, Back on My Feet participants have run over a million miles together.

In this episode of Catalysts we follow a participant who struggled in foster care before winding up on the streets – and eventually in prison. After incarceration, he didn’t have a bright future – but thankfully, he found Back on My Feet. With the help of the morning runs, he got better and better and has now participated in 5 New York City marathons. He’s held stable employment for over a year and is happy, loving life, and has become a valued member of the community who’s able to help others.

Ultimately, the goal of Back on My Feet is to move people toward self sufficiency and independence in order to live happy, sustainable and independent lives. Back on My Feet uses a unique progression of goals – like attending a certain number of runs – to help homeless or recovering people build self-confidence and unlock new resources to help them find jobs and transform their lives. Could this be a better model for getting more people on the road to recovery?

Subscribe to Freethink for more great stories