Posts Tagged Birthday Run

BOSTON — PHIL HAILER – In so many ways conditions were perfectly imperfect for BoMF Boston’s five teams to gather last week for its second birthday run on the Boston Common. The results spoke for themselves. It looked like it was going to rain, but it didn’t. From the outside looking in, it might have even seemed like a well organized event, but it wasn’t. No one from the BoMF brain- trust had a clue as to how many people would show up to this 5:45 a.m. extravaganza. But show up they did. By the dozens, in fact. Resident and non-resident members and team leaders alike from all five squads came by subway, by bus, by car, by bike, and by foot. The only thing missing was a horse, and there was probably one around there somewhere too.

Some even waited for the event at the wrong street corner a block away. It was a true perfectly imperfect BoMF Boston moment when those folks loudly grumbled, groused, and squawked their way up to the corner of Tremont and Park Streets where they promptly threw Vic (a.k.a, Mr. Teflon) right under the bus. And yet like all things BoMF related, and true professional that he is (whereas he has seen many a bus undercarriage), Vic kept smiling and it somehow all worked out in the end.

Of course, it didn’t hurt to have a special guest add some serious cachet and inspiration to the morning’s festivities. All time running great Dick Hoyt graced the crowd with his presence and words of encouragement. His legendary exploits as the leader of Team Hoyt running with his physically challenged son Rick for more than three decades in more than 1,000 races, including 30 Boston Marathons and a host of triathlons (six of which being Ironman challenges) is the stuff of sports legend lore that few can understand but all can admire and appreciate.

With Team Hoyt’s slogan: Yes You Can!, there is a message there for everyone. BoMF Boston was truly blessed to hear from this sports icon at the birthday run and can’t wait to hear more from him when he speaks at BoMF’s birthday breakfast on June 11 . (If you’re a Res or Non Rest and haven’t RSVPed yet, be sure to do so to bridget@backonmyfeet.org by June 1!)

After Hoyt spoke, it was time to go for a group run, but once again it was another perfectly imperfect BoMF Boston moment when the realization struck that no one had planned a route for the 50 or so in attendance. So it was left to the one with the biggest mouth to shout out: ” Go down Tremont, turn right on Boylston, turn right on Dartmouth, turn right on Comm. Ave, run through the park and get back here.” Someone said, “What was that again?” The response? “Right on Hereford, left on Boylston. Just kidding. Shut up and follow the guy in front of you.”

Despite the ad hoc course, no one got lost because return they all did. In fact, they returned to a perfectly imperfect runner’s breakfast of coffee and donuts courtesy of a little (very little) TLC from Chez Donuts du Dunkin’ across the street. And even that establishment has an improbable place in BoMF Boston’s rich and colorful two year history.

A few weeks earlier while holding a pre-dawn non-res orientation in there, someone from BoMF had to suddenly give noisy chase to a would be thief out the door and down an alley to (successfully) recover an iPhone stolen from an unwitting customer there. Mission accomplished in a perfectly imperfect BoMF way.

As the morning celebration wound down and before everyone tore into the coffee and donuts, and rummaged through some surplus running clothes donations, another perfectly imperfect BoMF moment occurred. It was time to circle up and Grandmaster Vic was ready to lead the closing Serenity prayer. Now, we have been known in the past to be joined in the circle by not only BoMFers, but sometimes by ducks, pigeons, buskers and assorted disheveled passersby who loiter on that particular corner of Boston Common. That morning though, as Vic started the prayer, a poor, ragged and clearly disturbed woman chomping on a cigarillo crashed through to the center of the circle and stood in the middle and started ranting quite loudly and incoherently about David and King Solomon. Vic calmly gave her the floor for a few seconds and then said loudly, “Who brought us here today?”

We then adjourned to the refreshments and offered our friend and some other folks hanging around the corner some food and surplus clothes. That quieted things down a bit making it a perfectly imperfect ending to a perfectly wonderful morning.

On Wednesday, September 21st, Back on My Feet celebrated its one year anniversary in Chicago with a spirited morning run. Back on My Feet teams gathered at the YMCA Lawson House to relive the milestones of the past year and retrace the one mile route that one short year ago launched the Chicago chapter.

The morning began with opening remarks from Kate Thinglum, Program Coordinator for Back on My Feet, who expressed gratitude for all those that have helped make the Chicago chapter’s first year memorable and successful.

Josh Serlin, Program Director, followed by recognizing active founding Back on My Feet Chicago members Wahid R., Anthony J., Samuel I., Domingo P. and Ramiro R. along with founding Lake View YMCA members Joe W., Steven L. and Micheal G. Past and present Core members were also recognized for their dedication and service to Back on My Feet.

Next,  representatives from each Chicago team spoke about their experience with Back on My Feet. A big THANK YOU to Debbie, Sandra, Sara and Randi for sharing with the group!

Following the speeches, participants set out on a one mile run. Runners were greeted at the finish with a cheer tunnel and post-run celebration! Despite the early morning hour, attendees rejoiced with cake, cookies and good company while sharing birthday hats and memories of the past year.

Finally, everyone in attendance was asked to sign a poster entitled, “The BEST part of Back on My Feet Chicago is…” Answers included, “the hugs”, “a new family”, “running and friends”, and “all the positive energy and the smiles and the hugs at 5:45am!”

Some highlights from our first year in existance include:

  • 96 Residential members have joined a BoMF Chicago team since the chapter’s launch, including 39 currently active members
  • 54 Members have run a race
  • 5 Members have run a half-marathon
  • 5 Members are currently training for the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
  • 4 Members have accrued over 500 miles since starting with the program

As of the end of August:

  • 87% of eligible members are currently enrolled in the Next Steps program
  • 21 members have obtained employment
  • 24 members have obtained housing
  • 28 members have enrolled in educational/vocational training programs

View more photos from the morning here.

July has been quite a month for team Ready, Willing, and Able! We started off the month celebrating Back on My Feet’s Fourth Birthday with all the teams and staff at City Hall. Thanks to some awesome teamwork, both RWA and New Jerusalem Now scored the win for the scavenger hunt around center city. We pieced together the clues and performed our cheer with some sweet posters in hand. Thanks to Kristel for making them!

The biggest race of the year for Back on My Feet, the 4th Annual Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20 in 24, happened this month! It was a lot of fun over at Lloyd Hall! Thank you to Krista, Bess, and Jess for being Quality Volunteers! Thanks to Michelle, Mark, Kenny, Liz, Greg, Warren, Maurice and James for volunteering over the weekend as well!

Maurice ran for Team Natalie Morales and closed in as the last leg of their Bronze Relay team. He did awesome!

Caitlin ran in the Midnight Madness run with her glow in the dark t-shirt! Jess, Wardell, Bess, and Therion ran early on Sunday morning in the Pajama Loop and ran a solid race!

A HUGE Congratulations to Kai’s Team for winning the Platinum Relay! The top two teams were head to head the entire race and it all came down to the last runner pulling ahead. Gotta love those kind of wins.

Great job to everyone who came out and ran/volunteered!

Members of the Month for July

Non-Res Member: Liz is our non-res member of the month for July! She has been incredibly dedicated since she first started in May. Liz will run or walk any distance with a res member and is always supportive of our team members. For 20in24, Liz came out and volunteered at a refreshment stand for 4 straight hours. Thank you for all of your enthusiasm and support, Liz!

Res-Member: Therion! He has been a member of BoMF’s RWA team since March, but this past month, Therion did something very special. Therion trained for weeks and ran the 8.4 mile loop for 20in24! He has been a positive member of the team since he started and is always willing to help out his teammates by suggesting stretches to solve running ailments. Keep up the great work, Therion!

Team OBP endured the summer heat in Philadelphia this month. Pete D., Dave F, and Christine even got a few extra miles at the Thursday night runs. We had a very strong showing at the 4th Annual Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24 event. We were proudly represented by Rebecca, Pete D, Pete S, Marisa, and Olani. Our members LeMar and Dave F. as well as our former team leader Laura volunteered supporting the runners and the race. Also, Christine – our member for the month of July – stopped by with Peppers to cheers us all on. What great teammates – thank you!

We also had a great time celebrating BoMF at the birthday run earlier this month. Who doesn’t love Krispy Kreme doughnuts slathered in frosting? For some summer fun, our non-res members gathered in Northern Liberties at PYT where we enjoyed amazing burgers and a round of Quizzo. Our competitive spirit took over, or rather Rebecca’s knowledge of pop star mug shots took over, and we found a way to crush the competition and win; We’re smart! We’re looking forward to next month’s track meet and are planning a hike as our August social event.

Non-Res Member of the Month

Our July non-res member of the month is Christine. She’s a regular fixture in the mornings even as she studies her glutes off at Drexel. She also is in possession of the current OBP mascot, Peppers. Christine is a valuable member of team OBP, and we will miss her terribly when her studies take her away from us in September. But, at least she leaves us with these words:

“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be. ”

~George Sheehan

Thanks for all that you do Christine!

July was hot, hot, hot in Philly but at Sheila Dennis we didn’t let that slow us down! We started out the month with a birthday fun run at City Hall where we ran around the Convention Center searching for clues and enjoyed some doughnut birthday cake.  We performed our cheer again for the other teams.  Wilma, Dawn, and Lisa also all had birthdays this month- happy birthday ladies!  We also welcomed new non-resident member Eileen to our circle this month.  Eileen joins us on sleepy Monday mornings and she is already having fun getting to know the team.

The team came out in full force to operate a water stop at the 4th Annual Stroehmann Back on My Feet 20in24.  Esterlina dressed as a life-sized foot and entertained the thirsty runners that passed through our stop.  We cheered on each and every runner, including some familiar Back on My Feet faces.  We worked together to make sure our stop ran smoothly, and had a ball doing it.  Congrats to all of the 20in24 runners.  Next year some of our non-resident members may join you! We can do it!

Resident of the month: Wilma

Wilma has maintained 100% attendance since joining the team in April.  Wilma is a great example for her teammates.  She manages a busy schedule of working in maintenance and as a peer counselor at Sheila Dennis.   She always has a coy smile on her face as she makes jokes in the morning circle.  She recently earned her 30 mile shirt and determined to earn many more.

Non-Resident of the month: Megan

Even though Megan already got a non-resident nod this year, she deserves another one for being a Quality Volunteer overnight AND helping out at the team water stop at 20in24!  Megan is committed to do everything she can to help the team.  She inspires the ladies every week with her determination and cheerful attitude.  Thanks for staying up with us, Megan!

This week Back on My Feet Boston has been celebrating our first birthday in Beantown. On Monday, all six BoMF teams assembled together for the very first time on the Boston Common to retrace the footsteps of the inaugural three teams’ first run on May 24, 2010. We’ve come a long way since Boston Rescue Mission, Hope House and St. Francis House members took those first tentative steps together. We’ve had our challenges and our triumphs. I’ve asked the Boston Executive Director, Vic Acosta, to share his thoughts with the BoMF community on our past year in Boston. The following is what Vic has to say.

Boston's inaugural run starting from the Boston Common on May 24, 2010

One year ago it was a fervent hope by everyone involved.  Back on My Feet had come to Boston and its success was based on faith by our community.  The program Anne Mahlum created and was changing lives in other cities was now in our city and it was now in our hands steady and unwise as they were.  The faith was immediate and unconditional: 300 volunteers and a funding level by our business community unprecedented in the programs history.  With that hope came the unconditional and unprecedented need to help our homeless.

One year later the teams have covered close to 9,000 miles and volunteers have contributed over 5,500 hours.  Over 100 shelter residents have been served, with 16 attaining permanent housing and another 18 obtaining employment.  Others have returned to their families and reconnected with loved ones and found their own fortunes.  And some have relapsed, returning to the cycle, and the road they must take.  There have been 9,000 miles and as many reasons for tears of all sorts.  Hundreds of hour of job training and education have been completed and perhaps even more important, thousands of hours in which people began to understand each other and themselves.  In so short a time we have doubled the number of teams and access to people we wish to help but we have also felt that to embrace greater numbers requires exponentially more love and compassion and resources.  The numbers tell a story but perhaps the greater wisdom is that in our first year we have learned what help looks like.

We have been blessed to see our Jackie Kenyon become a team captain, then a case manager at a partner shelter, and now perhaps a national spokesperson and advocate for the dignity and services our homeless need.  We have been guided by Stephen Karagiozis in his quest to not only reestablish his dignity but teach BoMF how to help others regain theirs.  We’ve felt Jeff Bowditch’s struggle with running through pain and his need to belong to a program that has brought him college education and a chance for him to support his own family.  And we’ve also been humbled by the loss of teammates and overjoyed by their return or desire to.  If there is a statistic that means anything it is that 100% of shelter residents who relapse or have had to leave their facility have reached out to Back on My Feet with the hopes of returning somehow someway.

Recently we met with an area expert with 25 years of experience with almost every aspect of homelessness in Boston.  In a matter of a few words he was able to identify what we have spent a year trying to define, describe, and share.  In a way it could be defined by a time: 5 a.m.

Five a.m. is what Back on My Feet defends and restores.  It is the singular crucible that enables our homeless to be other than what our city and culture define them.  Five a.m. is the purpose of employment partners, service providers, educational opportunities and all other aspects of the service nature of Back on My Feet.  It is the option and wall that counters the empty hours created by getting bedded down at oh so early hours in a shelter.  It can be said that 5 a.m. is natural to two populations: the homeless and runners.  It was at such hours that Anne saw the need and opportunity.  And it is at such a time that our homeless are awake and awaiting the gray day.  Back on My Feet embraces and colors the day at 5 a.m.

So, after a year help looks like this: Every opportunity and measure of wisdom our Advisory Board provides; every possible assistance our shelter directors can give; every dollar; every job training session, race bib, running shirt afforded to our people; every tireless hour our Team Leaders put in; every heartbreak and joy is to give 5 a.m. meaning and hope.

At 5 a.m. a runner in Boston puts on their shoes and the road goes on forever.  At one we have become a community of serenity and acceptance.  Happy Birthday, Boston.

NSV has been spending the month of March gearing up for the Back on My Feet birthday run, the birthday bash and the upcoming 5K that the ladies are taking on at the GW Parkway Classic.  The Back on My Feet birthday run was an early morning run down by the Capitol Building where all the teams from across the city came together for the first time to run in the morning and celebrate what it means to be a part of the Back on My Feet family.  Pictures can be found HERE.

The ladies also joined all the Back on My Feet teams for our first annual Birthday Bash, celebrating BoMF’s first year, and numerous accomplishments, here in DC.  Folks were dressed up and ready to go for the night’s dinner and dancing.  Pictures of the event can be found HERE!

Happy March Birthday to both res-members Shirley S. and Carol S! Res-member Jackie W. obtained a part-time job with DC United working concessions and used part of her grant money to pay off a past ticket. Rhonda A. started an internship with Reading Partners.

March also saw the transition from original team leader, Jason W. to the current team leader Lauren G.  Jason put in an amazing 6 months with the ladies and helped many members start up in the program and work their way up to being able to run in their first 5K race!  All of the March events were a great way to celebrate what the team has accomplished, and say thanks to the efforts that Jason, and all of the other core volunteers have put in to making the N Street Village team so successful.  Jason plans to be keep running with the team, after a little bit of well deserved rest and a few mornings of sleeping in