This organization is fighting homelessness one run at a time
Courtesy of Back on My Feet
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Having graduated in the top 10% of Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) cadets nationwide in 2012, Pat Robinson was ready to take on a career in the Air Force full speed ahead.

Despite her stellar performance in the classroom and training grounds, Robinson feared other habits she'd picked up at Ohio University had sent her down the wrong tracks.

First stationed near Panama City, Florida, Robinson became reliant on alcohol while serving as an air battle manager student. After barnstorming through Atlanta's nightclubs on New Year's Eve, Robinson failed a drug test and lied to her commanding officer about the results.

Eleven months later, she was dismissed. Feeling ashamed and directionless, Robinson briefly returned home to Cleveland before venturing west to look for work in San Francisco.

After a brief stint working at a paint store, Robinson found herself without a source of income and was relegated to living in her car. Robinson's garbage can soon became littered with parking tickets and her car was towed. Golden Gate Park's cool grass soon replaced her bed.

"My substance abuse spiraled very quickly," Robinson said. "You name it, I probably used it. Very quickly I contracted HIV and Hepatitis C. I was arrested again and again and was finally charged and sentenced to substance abuse treatment."


Two failed attempts to get clean later, Robinson knew she desperately needed to pick herself up. During her third stay at a substance abuse treatment facility, Robinson learned of Back on My Feet — a nonprofit that combats homelessness through the power of running — who was there to extend a hand.

After working through the 12-step program for 60 days, Robinson labored through running her first mile after joining Back on My Feet.

"I kept asking myself while I was running — am I trying to kill myself?" Robinson said. "I couldn't remember the last time I ran. But the volunteers were all happy and wanted to get to know me. I was all skeptical and quiet and questioning why they were so happy."

As she continued to run with Back on My Feet, Robinson realized that their joy came from a genuine sense of support and encouragement between the volunteers.

Courtesy of Back on My Feet

"Members were pushing each other beyond our limitations," Robinson said. "I was still doing treatment for Hepatitis C and HIV and I had to just set my pain aside and push myself every single moment otherwise I would give myself an excuse to be stagnant and depressed."

After she received treatment for Hepatitis C, Robinson's energy level skyrocketed. She began studying to be a personal trainer, taking fitness classes and worked with Back on My Feet to rebuild her professional and financial outlook by creating a resume and going through credit reports and housing applications.

Back on My Feet also set Robinson up with financial literacy workshops at the Capital One Cafe in San Francisco.

"They definitely motivated me to see a financial life beyond my imagination but instead a reality of wealth," Robinson said.

Capital One has partnered with Back on My Feet's since 2017 and helps its members establish themselves financially. Back on My Feet members have the chance to sit with Cafe ambassadors for one-on-one sessions to answer their questions and go over personal financial necessities like balancing a budget, managing credit and making a plan for financial independence.

"They are people who are starting all over again from scratch and we are here to give them clarity for whatever questions they may have," said Denza Young, a San Francisco Capital One Cafe ambassador. "Capital One truly is reimagining banking because everything they do: their belief system, their challenges... everything is connected to their money. When they can get clarity on whatever it is that gives them their hurdles it helps them set their goals and think about self-care differently."

In addition to offering free workshops, Capital One provides grant support to Back on My Feet. In May, Back on My Feet awarded Capital One with its Corporate Pacesetter award.

"It is no surprise that this nonprofits' values align closely with ours in bringing humanity to banking and empowering our customers in their journey to be financially successful," said Nerissa Davis, West Coast Market Executive for the Capital One cafe network. "We are so proud of the people we are able to support through our partnership with Back on My Feet and look forward to continuing our journey together to make a difference in the community."

This partnership has empowered members like Robinson to pursue personal, professional and financial goals that they once saw as unattainable.

Robinson began training for The Giant Race and received word just days before running her first half-marathon that she had been hired as a personal trainer at a local fitness studio.

With her new-found path, Robinson now had confidence to achieve a goal that once seemed unthinkable.

"To me, crossing that finish line meant the culmination of salvation," Robinson said. "If you would have told me five years ago that my life was going to be spared and that I would be given the courage and ability to cross any finish line, I would've deemed you crazy, even though I was the one truly in psychosis."

Her personal progress aside, for Robinson, it's the impact she has on others that means the most.

"The accomplishment that I'm most proud of is being able to give back to Back on My Feet by leading Workout Wednesdays," Robinson said. "People call this my career, but I call it a blessing."

While the COVID-19 pandemic forced her fitness studio to close, Robinson continues to help those around her through leading socially distant runs with Back on My Feet members. She has also been creating a video for San Francisco Community Health to send to their clients so they can exercise at home.Since March, she has cooked and distributed hundreds of meals to support people in her neighborhood facing homeless — a challenge she knows all too well.

"I haven't touched a harmful substance in three years and to me that means freedom," Robinson said. "To anyone who is currently struggling with addiction or experiencing housing insecurity, ask for help, and know that help is on the way. Don't be afraid."

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.