If you told recovering alcoholic and drug addict Hermon Blount a year ago that he’d soon be getting up 3 or 4 days a week at 5:30 a.m. to run, he may not have believed you.
That was before he decided to quit drinking and using drugs in exchange for something better. Part of Blount’s ongoing recovery process can be attributed to the early morning workouts he does with a national, nonprofit organization called Back On My Feet (BoMF).
BoMF exists to promote self-sufficiency for formerly homeless and often drug-addicted community members through running. It requires a serious running commitment from participants and relies heavily on dedicated volunteers. Despite high relapse rates among the drug-addicted population in America, BoMF boasts a 50 percent success rate for their members moving from dependency to a sober, independent lifestyle.
The requirement for members to meet goals and earn incentives is a powerfully effective component of the program. BoMF does not receive federal funding, and its incentive-driven structure distinguishes it from government programs like welfare that do little to empower individuals to improve their lives.
Today, welfare spending has skyrocketed and created too much dependency on big government. Organizations like BoMF are a model for policymakers seeking to reform welfare programs. By promoting personal responsibility and implementing incentives for work, participants can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Heritage’s Rachel Sheffield recently addressed failing government welfare programs:
Rather than addressing the causes of poverty, the federal government’s method of operation has been to pour more taxpayer dollars into more welfare programs, edging near a cost of $1 trillion annually.
…Successfully helping the poor should mean promoting individual freedom through self-reliance, not promoting dependence through a government dole.
Residents like Blount participate in BoMF as one part of their recovery process. It’s up to them to make the most of it and work their way to independence.
The responsibility includes a commitment to consistency, hard work, and taking on leadership roles, among other things. Over the 4-12 months the program, members earn things like job training, educational courses, and small stipends to help pay off legitimate debts.
Resident members of BoMF must maintain a 90 percent attendance rate at morning runs and are encouraged to participate in monthly races, team socials, and meetings. Not only does maintaining attendance and reaching goals supply material goods, but it also delivers confidence, strength, and self-esteem in the lives of those who desperately need it to put their lives back together.
For Blount, it’s been a blessing in disguise because, “running clears your mind, gives you something to think about and puts you in a whole different zone,” he said, noting as well that he also loves meeting new people that are a positive force in his recovery.
The community aspect of reliable teammates and volunteers is also crucial to the success of the program. Some members have been rejected by their families. Others’ only outside community are friends or family still embroiled in the drug and alcohol-addicted lifestyle. The value of a loving, trustworthy group of friends can be the lifeline someone needs to keep going.
BoMF has chapters in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and New York City. Find out more here.