My friend Meg is a runner. She runs for the joy of running, and she runs to support worthy causes like research on liver disease. Several times a week, she rises early and runs with friends and a few homeless folks who have found running to be a step toward getting their lives in order.
Here she tells how she learned about Back on My Feet after seeing the program’s T-shirts being worn in a race:
“Running, as a means of teaching work and life skills to residents of homeless shelters. Using their attendance, attitude, dedication to morning runs to gain access to job training, housing assistance, and help paying for and attaining education. Intriguing, indeed. Especially since I’d not noticed a single homeless person in that crowd of runners.
“A lifelong runner myself, I could evidence upticks in productivity and personal satisfaction when I was most engaged in running. Was it possible that what worked for me could work for the city’s most troubled?
“I filled out the online interest form. A few weeks later, I got an email confirming an evening orientation session, where nearly a dozen gathered to learn about the program. Vic Acosta, Boston Chapter Program Director, filled me with hope, enthusiasm, and energy – from that moment, I knew that Back On My Feet would be my kind of group.
“A few days later, I set that early morning alarm for the first time.
“I met the team – residents and non-residents both – that morning. We ran a few miles, and I went home to prepare for work, still not knowing which runners were the residents [of the homeless shelter]. Then, I began to really understand the power of Back On My Feet: on those early mornings, we weren’t residents or non-residents, we were teammates.”
Now can I tell you the rest of story as it was told to me?
One day Meg mentioned to one of the homeless guys that she planned to drive up to Lowell with friends for a race. He was interested. He asked if he could come along. He said he was from Lowell and had been estranged from his family for years because of troubles with the law and with substance abuse. He wondered tentatively, hopefully, whether anyone in his family might like to see him now that he had gotten clean.
Meg took him along, and he ran with her group. At the end of the race his family was there. Cheering.