Back on My Feet, a national non-profit that helps homeless people through running, is launching an Austin chapter today.
“Our members don't want to be homeless, they just don't know how not to be homeless,” founder and president Anne Mahlum says. The idea is to build the health and self-esteem of homeless individuals through running, before putting them in touch with employment opportunities.
Joe Maruchella, executive director for the Austin chapter of Back on My Feet, says “the running is just the beginning of the process. It starts while one mile, but it takes four to six months to go through whole program.”
Mark “Max” Smith is currently experiencing homelessness, but is excited to run with Back On My Feet.
“It will be a great experience socially – be around more people, not in isolation, and to grow that way,” he says. “I'm looking forward to get back into the working field.”
The group’s mission is preparing members for independence, providing employment opportunities and financial assistance for housing.
“The plan is to get our members employed and working,” says Mahlum, “and Back on My Feet's commitment is to get them ready for that step.”
KUT News was at Back On My feet’s “inaugural shoe fitting” this weekend. Take a look the photos in the slideshow below, posted to KUT's Flickr page.