Homeless-aid group up and running in Indianapolis

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A fast-growing national organization that gets homeless people involved in running is expanding to Indianapolis.

Back on My Feet, founded in Philadelphia in 2007, will launch its seventh chapter here Tuesday with an early-morning run along the Central Canal downtown. The organization has already landed several corporate sponsors, including the JW Marriott, White Lodging and others with a downtown presence. The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention is also a sponsor.

Back on My Feet forms running teams at homeless shelters. Those participants who maintain attendance and a good attitude become eligible for the “Next Steps” program, which offers educational and job-training opportunities, as well as cash for “approved purchases or investments,” the organization’s website says.

Ten of the runners participating in Tuesday’s launch are homeless veterans and clients of Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation. “We are using every resource available to eliminate homelessness for those who have served our country, and our new partnership with Back on My Feet gives us another way to engage veterans in need and their families,” HVAF CEO Charles Haenlein said in a prepared statement. “It takes dedication, perseverance and strength to run a marathon, and these qualities, when matched with our HVAF career services and programs, will help our clients succeed in finding a job or a home and accomplishing the goals they have for themselves and their families.”

Back on My Feet grew out of a running club that founder Anne Mahlum formed with residents of a homeless shelter that was on her morning jogging route in Philadelphia. The not-for-profit now has chapters in Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore; Chicago; Boston; and Dallas.

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