CNN: Runner gets homeless on right track

Last month, I wrote about my discovery of the Philadelphia-based homeless running group, Back On My Feet.

Well, today, I noticed CNN.com posted a story about BOMF so I thought I would share that with you here…

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (CNN) — At 5 a.m. on any given day, Anne Mahlum could be found running the dark streets of Philadelphia — with homeless men cheering her on as she passed their shelter. But one morning last spring, she stopped in her tracks.

“Why am I running past these guys?” recalls Mahlum, 27. “I’m moving my life forward every day — and these guys are standing in the same spot.”

Instead of continuing to pass them by, the veteran marathoner sprang into action so they could join her.

She contacted the shelter, got donations of running gear, and in July 2007 the “Back On My Feet” running club hit the streets.

The first day, Mahlum led nine shelter residents in a mile-long run. Today, Back on My Feet has teams in three Philadelphia shelters, including 54 homeless members and more than 250 volunteers. The group has logged more than 5,000 miles.

Requirements for shelter residents to join are simple — they must live in an affiliated facility and be clean and sober for 30 days. Members receive new shoes and running clothes, and teams run together three times a week between 5:30 and 6 a.m.

Continue reading…

Helping the homeless get back on their feet

Back On My Feet logoI was home tonight watching the surprising Philadelphia 76ers throttle the Seatlle SuperSonics tonight…and the Sixers were honoring a Philly-based organization that I think is really neat.

The organization is called Back On My Feet and, as the Web site describes it…

…is “a strategic and unique program that uses running to teach critical work and life skills — such as discipline, respect, leadership, and goal-setting — to homeless individuals living within the city of Philadelphia. Our clients are homeless shelters and our members are residents within those shelters, all of whom must have a record of being clean and sober of 30 consecutive days before starting the program. Back on My Feet does not provide either food or shelter. While these are very important basic human needs, BOMF instead focuses on improving self-value by helping its members set, accomplish and sustain their personal goals. In addition, BOMF promotes partnerships and collaborations with individuals and organizations already working diligently to solve the many problems associated with homelessness.

Here is the short version of how it got started:


Anne Mahlum, Founder and President, would pass by a homeless shelter every morning on her daily run and began to develop a rapport with the men outside on the corner. What started out as waves and smiles from a distance became more intimate as they developed a comfort level with one another. And one morning a simple idea stopped her in her tracks….

With a call to the shelter and the astounding support from the community, Philadelphia Runner and the media, Philadelphia’s first Homeless Running Club was well, up and running. The first run took place on Tuesday, July 3rd at 6 am…and now seven months later, we are operating in three different shelters. It’s pretty amazing.

And here is BOMF’s Mission Statement:

Mission Statement: Back on My Feet is a non-profit organization that promotes the self-sufficiency of Philadelphia’s homeless population by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem.

Here is video of an ABC News story on BOMF’s founder Anne Mahlum.

If you would like to learn more, please visit www.backonmyfeet.org for information.