INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 11, 2015) – A group working to improve the lives of homeless men and women in Indianapolis celebrated four years of service Wednesday. “Back on my Feet” marked the occasion with an early morning run before sunrise.
“Back on my Feet” aims to empower the homeless by turning them into runners. The organization partners with agencies, like Wheeler Mission and Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF), to encourage people to participate. Homeless individuals are asked to commit to running three times per week. Once they do that for thirty days with 90 percent attendance, Back on my Feet connects them to job training and education opportunities.
“A lot of members, when they come into shelters, they don’t have a lot to feel good about,” said Chrissy Vasquez, executive director for Back on my Feet. “Running gives them something quick they can feel good about. Even if they are walking or walk-running, it’s something where they can see daily improvement. And, it gives them something to feel happy about.”
The group gathered at a downtown parking lot at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday before heading out on a run. They named the celebratory event the “Past, Present and Future” run because they invited both current participants and those who already made it through the program. A long line of volunteers and staff cheered on the runners as they made it back to the starting location.
Group volunteers said it is very rewarding to see individuals go through the program and become self-sufficient. Plus, they say running cultivates motivation and determination.
“They think they never could do it,” Vasquez said. “They got to do their first 5K and they think it is so daunting. They realize that with the support of others and discipline, they can do anything. They are excited to apply that to other parts of their lives.”