This organization is fighting homelessness one run at a time
Courtesy of Back on My Feet
True

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."

Stillbirth after the 20-week mark happens to approximately one in 100 pregnancies. Approximately 24,000 babies are born stillbirth each year. And while stillbirths are rare, the experience can be emotionally painful for those who have to go through it.

Last month, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend lost their third child, Jack, at 20 weeks. Teigen suffered a partial placenta abruption, a rare diagnosis in which the placenta and the lining of the uterus separate. It prevents the fetus from receiving oxygen and nutrients and causes bleeding in the mother. Now, Teigen is opening up about her experiences with the loss in a heart wrenching Medium essay.


Keep Reading Show less

Electing Donald Trump to be president of the United States set an incredibly ugly example for the nation's youth.

We know how it's affected the national discourse of regular adults. But there's no denying the conduct of a president impacts how children around the world see the example being set for them. Every day for the past four years, children have been subjected to the behavior of a divisive figure that many of their parents chose to exalt to the most powerful office in the world.

Sure, adults can make excuses for him saying he's an "imperfect messenger" or that they "didn't vote for him to be reverend," but these are all just ways to rationalize voting for a man with zero character. What a message to send to children: Act awful and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

But what if you took away the "Trump" name and examined the character traits of him as an ordinary person? More specifically, what if your daughter came to you and said this was the kind of person she was planning to date? Well, one MAGA family found out and the results are funny, insightful and quite revealing about how we somehow hold our leaders to different and lower standards than we expect from ourselves in our day to day lives.

Keep Reading Show less

Even before he became president, Donald Trump was known for his unhindered use of Twitter. He and his many press secretaries have lauded the president's frequently used and abused social media account as his way of connecting directly with the people, but if you scroll through his feed, it usually seems more like a venue for him to brag, bully people, and air his grievances. Oh, and lie a whole bunch.

Then there is Steak-umm, the anti-Trump Twitter account. And by "anti-Trump" I don't mean against Trump, but rather the opposite of Trump. Instead of griping and sharing falsehoods that constantly need fact-checking while being the single biggest source of coronavirus misinformation, Steak-umm use their account to share helpful tips for avoiding misinformation in the midst of a confusing pandemic, to explain psychological concepts like "cognitive dissonance" and "dualism," and to encourage people to really examine and think about things before sharing them.

In other words, Trump tweets conspiracy theories while Steak-umm tweets about how to not fall for conspiracy theories.

Keep Reading Show less