Austin is a city that thrives on collaboration, which in turn fuels its innovative spirit. As a non-profit, Austin Runners Club is honored to partner with several other organizations and businesses in our community to work toward our mission. Throughout the next few months we’ll be highlighting other great organizations that strive to promote fitness and wellness in the Austin community.
Back on My Feet Dallas Trail Race
The brainchild of Anne Mahlum, Back on My Feet began in Philadelphia seven years ago. Anne had used running to overcome difficulties in her own life and recognized others could find the same benefit. What started as a running club with 9 members from her local homeless shelter has grown into a nationally successful program in 11 cities that continues to help “people experiencing homelessness see themselves as deserving, capable, hardworking, responsible, disciplined, focused and reliable” individuals.
Since the Austin chapter’s inception in 2011, Back on My Feet Austin has helped over 100 people find and sustain employment and housing, and enhanced their financial literacy and nutritional knowledge. So how does the program work?
“Residential Members” (those experiencing homelessness for at least 30 days) sign up at one of 2 locations: downtown at the ARCH or at the Salvation Army Center on South Congress just south of Ben White. After a brief orientation, signing of a “dedication contract”, and creating individual goals, Residential Members meet up with Community Volunteers 3 times a week for morning runs. Some Residential Members even opt for a long run on Saturdays, and many sign up for races with the help of Back on My Feet Austin (to date, Residential Members have run in 59 races since 2011).
Those that have 90% attendance in their running group for 30 days are then eligible for the Next Steps program, which launches Residential Members into job training and educational opportunities to increase their self-sufficiency. Amazingly, about 75% of all Residential Members move on to the Next Steps program; and once graduating from Next Steps (i.e., they’ve obtained employment and housing), they often keep running with their groups and serve as community volunteers.
Much like Austin Runners Club, Back on My Feet Austin relies on volunteers to serve their community, as well as to provide consistency and motivation to the Residential Members. Community Volunteers often note that volunteering with Back on My Feet Austin is awe inspiring because they actually see the results of Residential Members dedicating themselves to their goals. To get involved, simply visit their Run With Us page and fill out their volunteer form.
Can’t volunteer on a regular basis? Sign up to run in the Bigfoot Trail Race on September 28th! Not only does this race directly benefit Back on My Feet Austin, you’ll be running right along-side many Residential Members as they tackle their goals. With a 10K, 30K, and 50K available, you’re sure to find a distance to squeeze into your training plan.
If you know of a local, fitness-focused non-profit organization that we should highlight, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.