In October of 2017 Ronnie obtained a 90-day reservation bed at an emergency shelter in San Francisco. Being surrounded by the stressful environment, Ronnie continued to seek resources. On a chilly Monday evening in February Ronnie overheard a BoMF program staff explain how their program can offer individuals like Ronnie a sense of community, support and so much more; BoMF would help him find employment and housing. That Friday he decided to lace up bright and early and join Team SOMA for his first Back on My Feet run.
Ronnie became a regular, never missing a morning. He maintained 100% attendance his first couple of months in the program. He attended resume and mock interview workshops, basic computer training and financial literacy sessions where he learned to develop a budget and improve his credit. He also developed personal goals.
One of these goals was achieved on July 29th when he crossed the finish line of the San Francisco Half Marathon. “When I first decided to run the half marathon, I wasn’t thinking about running it for myself, when I decided to run, I decided I was running for everyone staying in the shelter. Running for everyone that needs help and anyone I can inspire. I was running to give them hope.” Ronnie expressed during a TV interview that aired following the race.
He crossed the finish line with a beaming smile, full of satisfaction and emotion alongside Monica, a volunteer that completed the 16-week training program with him. “When I first joined the training runs I was slower than the rest of the group,” Monica shared, “even though we didn’t know each other, I noticed that Ronnie would hang back at a light just to make sure I was following. That was really kind and was the first time I noticed his gentle grace.” Monica shared that their friendship grew throughout their training and Ronnie’s kind nature and character shined through, all the way to the end of the 13.1 mile race they completed side by side, as teammates.
After checking the half marathon off his goals list, Ronnie felt ready to conquer another, gaining employment. It wasn’t an easy process. He had to polish up on his interview skills, find the right clothing, navigate how to communicate without a phone and overcome unique barriers along the way.
As of October 31st, Ronnie is employed. When Ronnie received the news that he had gotten the job with Farming Hope he was elated. The first thing he did was tell his BoMF team – his community and support.
This Friday, during Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week we are celebrating more than just Back on My Feet San Francisco’s 2nd birthday, we are celebrating the impact this community has created. BoMF SF has served more than 250 members, helped over 60 members find stable employment, supported 30 as they moved into housing, and provided members with financial assistance for first month’s rent and deposit, certification and training fees, materials for school, debt repayment, traffic ticket payments and more to eliminate barriers to gaining independence.
As we reflect on this week, we hope you think of Ronnie, an individual experiencing the same hardships and challenges, yet he continued to be positive and think of others experiencing homelessness, dedicating his half marathon to them. Let’s challenge ourselves on this Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week to do the same.