Program in NY offers Running Start for Homeless
NEW YORK Some homeless Americans are getting a running start on creating new lives.
The Back on My Feet program spurs them into instant action in nine cities with a simple plan: Go for a run at dawn.
Those who do it three times a week for a month are then offered job training, education and whatever else it takes "to get my life back," says Albert Davis, 20, a native of Alabama who lives in a Manhattan shelter.
On a nippy spring morning in Central Park, he joined about 50 runners plus volunteer mentors covering a mile to Times Square. Some breezed along, others struggled. But somehow, they all made it to the New York Marriott Marquis, where they met corporate sponsors for breakfast. The Marriott chain has employed dozens of formerly homeless people in its hotels.
"This is not a running club it's the beginning of a new, different life," a teary-eyed LaTonya Golden told the healthy breakfast gathering. She ended up homeless and penniless after losing her job in Detroit's auto industry a few years ago, followed by her house and car.
Running is just the first step we take to create a brand new identity for people," says Mahlum. "You acquire the persistence and responsibility that allow you to start again."
Back on My Feet also has helped place members in jobs with companies like Enterprise and Bimbo Bakeries, in restaurants and call centers, or doing maintenance, plumbing, carpeting and security work.
"Trying to help people who are homeless get back on their feet takes a multifaceted approach, and you're not exactly sure what will work," says Seth Diamond, New York's commissioner for homeless services, which works with Mahlum to recruit participants at five New York shelters.
Of 400 Back on My Feet participants across the country, about half have moved on to independent living.
Besides running, I'd suggest some push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups.
Here is a link that might be useful: Program in NY offers Running Start for homeless