'Back On My Feet' offers homeless a community

If you head to the Capitol during sunrise, you'll see no shortage of runners, getting a morning exercise before work. But one group of runners has an especially meaningful reason for being there.

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) - If you head to the Capitol during sunrise, you'll see no shortage of runners, getting a morning exercise before work. But one group of runners has an especially meaningful reason for being there.

Three days a week, a group called "Back On My Feet" meets for a run, bringing community members and the homeless together. 

"It's the love," said one homeless man named Lance.

"That I love about the organization. The genuine love."

The D.C. chapter is one of many from across the nation, including nearby ones in Philadelphia and Baltimore. While the main purpose of the program is to give these homeless people a community, there's also a more tangible benefit as well. After 30 days, those with 90 percent attendance will get access to educational support, job training and other resources. 

Lance said the community helped him to get over his addiction to alcohol and drugs, which de-railed his personal and professional life. 

"It kinda got progressive with the drinking," he said.

"Then I started using controlled substances for pain. Then it went from there to street drugs which took me in a spiral downfall... You know, I immersed myself in doing drugs and drinking to that point where nobody wanted to be bothered with me."

Lance's story wasn't unique. 

"I lost everything," said a homeless person named Andre.

Andre said he has now been in the program for months, and is taking advantage of the "Next Steps" program, which follows the 30 day introductory period. 

"It teaches me how to maneuver around life's obstacles," he said.

"Instead of just running from them, I run through them."

Joining the homeless are various people from the community, both young and old. Danny Cushman was one of the younger runners, along with his brother. 

"It's fun because on our runs we get to talk," he said.

"We get to run and we get to race sometimes at the end."

Danny's mom, Alicia, said this is the lesson she's trying to teach her children. 

"We desensitize ourselves from homelessness," she said.

"You kind of see people on the street, and you just pass them by. You don't even look at them. You're desensitized to it these days. But when you sit down and talk to them, you realize they're just human beings."

The organization said that the program has helped some 6,000 people combat homelessness nationwide.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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