As Time Flies

August 15, 2016

Now well into the dog days of August my summer internship with Back on My Feet NYC comes to a close. This summer internship was so much more than I ever could have imagined. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to work with the BOMF staff, and really get to know them. Being able to get to know the members of BOMF as well and learn a little about their personal stories was an unique opportunity that I am so fortunate I got to have and will last a lifetime. I have made so many new friends, and I am so excited as they continue their journey to run the NYC marathon this upcoming November. BOMF NYC really showed me that even in this unpredictable world, there is always optimism and glass half full outlook, even if you have to refill your glass in order to see it that way. Not to brag but I definitely had the best summer internship I could have hoped for!

Although my internship is over with BOMF, this is far from goodbye. I will be interning in D.C. this fall for another running based non-profit, and will definitely be out the door at 5 am some mornings to get some runs in with the BOMF D.C. teams!! If anyone reading this lives in an urban/highly populated city, I highly suggest you see if there is a BOMF team near you, then go out and run while making new friends and a difference. What else are you going to do at 5:30 am?? Also if there isn’t a BOMF team, but you think there should be contact BOMF and see what steps are needed!!

To all the students wondering how you can find your dream internship like I did, think of a place that you had an incredible time at, and realize why you did, and if there are job opportunities doing that. In 2011 I ran the Philadelphia marathon, there was a BOMF table at the expo, I didn’t think much of it then, but when I realized I needed an internship it was the first thought in my head. In liberal arts we are told to make connections with our courses, well there is a simple reason they want us to do that, because those connections are all over the place in the real world.

Behind the Scenes

August 10, 2016

Being a Back on My Feet intern, I am not always on my feet. Actually recently I developed a stress fracture so I literally have not been on my feet. Back on My Feet is an incredibly successful non-profit organization and there is a lot that goes on everyday that the public doesn’t see. As an intern, if you have watched any kind of movie with an intern in it, you assume you fetch the coffee, staple papers and file things. Although I have stapled papers, that is definitely not the reality of being an intern, or at least at an epic non-profit like BOMF. I have learned how to navigate the world of Excel, and many other non-profit/business software platforms, that will be incredibly useful in the future, as my time comes to a close here.

More so, I have learned through experience, something that they can’t teach you at school. When I enter data for BOMF, I am not just pressing numbers, but learning so much about an individual and what they have gone through, and how strong they are to be making positive change in their life. In the scenes and behind the scenes, seeing members’ self-motivation and energy grow throughout the summer is why this internship has had such a positive impact on me. Knowing that the incredible BOMF staff works tirelessly everyday with huge smiles on their faces to push others to do their greatest, as well as keep the organization running smoothly, gives me a lot of encouragement and proof that there is still a whole lot of good in the world, and if I choose to, there are so many ways I can be apart of it after graduation, and even make it a career.

IMG_6483Plus I mean have this cutie as an office mate is an added bonus 🙂

This past weekend BOMF left the city, and went out to Essex County, NJ,…. although Essex County is a far cry from the backwoods of Appalachia, or the mountains of Colorado, at some points in the run, if you didn’t know where you were, you could be convinced you truly were in the middle of nowhere. For some of our members it was their first time out of the concrete jungle, for others it was their first trail run. People who trail run understand just how amazing it is to be out in nature with just the sounds of the forest and well your breathing keeping you company. They also understand how much harder trail running is than road running, and how it takes a particular kind of strength to run trails, and yes I mean mental strength. BOMF and trail running have the same mindsets too, running to be together and having fun. There is a great quote that I think connects trail running and BOMF together perfectly, ” I don’t run to win races nor do I run to get places, I run to escape this world, I run to find peace with myself, I run to feel free, I run to feel strong” Before we started we stressed to everyone not to worry about time, and that this would feel more like 16 miles rather than 11, running trails is hard! We did our circle up and warm up, and then everyone was off the concrete and into the mountains!

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“Who are we?” “Back on My Feet!!” “Where are we from?” “New York City!!” “How far are we going to run?” “FOREVER!”

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Circle Up, and Warm Up!

 

Afterwards as everyone was scarfing down pizza, pickles, Swedish fish, and my favorite, tortilla chips, there were smiles and laughter all around. Everyone sharing there own experience on the trails, some fisherman tails, like water trolls chasing you up the mountain, and snow on the top of the mountain in the hottest part of the summer..then of course we ended with a pickle juice chugging contest.

Experiencing nature is something all should have the opportunity to have, and I am glad I got to share the nature in my backyard with the incredible people of Back on My Feet NYC!

If you grew up like me, you always heard, follow the path less traveled. I kind of knew growing up I would indeed follow the path less traveled, or in my case, run the trail less taken. I grew up in a house of engineers, my brother at age five said he wanted to build the rockets that go into space. He now has a masters in Aerospace Engineering and is doing just that. Well when I was five I wanted to be a zoo keeper, a sheriff, an EMT, and a vet. Basically I had no clue, although these jobs do have a common theme-helping others.

This “trail” definitely continues to have a lot of turns, some sharp, but in the past year I have finally realized I am not lost in the middle of the forest, but I am in fact on a trail, and the right one at that. I have enjoyed my past four years at Dickinson as an International Studies major, but in my mind I chose that major because it had flexibility to take a lot of different classes. This past year at Dickinson I took some courses that were out of my comfort zone and I am extremely happy I did. Believe it or not, introduction to business, social innovation and entrepreneurship, environment and society and my senior seminar about empires were the four courses that helped me connect all the dots on my trail and make me realize which turns to take next.

My internship with B.O.M.F. did not pop up searching on the internet, it was through these courses, and faculty taking time out of their busy schedules to hear me out and help me pursue my wildest academic and professional dreams. I stay in contact with many of my professors, and recently a professor emailed me after reading my blog saying “In Judaism we believe that if you save a life you change an entire world, and you are doing just that”. Knowing that someone I highly respect not only as a professor but as a person thinks so highly of me, really motivates me to continue to strive and push forward on my trail. Running has always been apart of my life, but what I didn’t know until recently, was it can be part of my professional life just as much as my personal life. My internship with BOMF has flown by, but excited to see what the last few weeks bring!

At Dickinson, you have a network of people who truly care where you are and where you are going, but they don’t push you to find the “right” place immediately, which is great. I had the amazing opportunity to talk to an incredible alumni (hint: he makes nut butters for a living) and he said the best thing he did was get summer internships. With summer internships you get a unique opportunity to try something for a few months and you realize if that is the right fit for you, or if it wasn’t then no harm done. Dickinson gives out internship grants so you can have the opportunity to intern at a non-paid or low-paid internship site that financially you might not have been able to take that position. Although I am still far from knowing exactly what I will be doing as a career, I have the trail map now, and I know where the next few turns go, and to me that is the beauty of running the trail less taken.

The summer kick-off race for BoMF NYC members was an incredibly special event to be apart of. The Achilles 4-miler in Central Park, at first glance looked just looked like any average running race. You got your bib with the time chip in it, you looked around and saw all the different clubs and organizations in their own circles warming up, there were port-o-johns for what always seems like your last pee you will ever have. There were water stops filled to the sky with cups of electrolyte drinks, tents near the finish fully stocked with bananas, bagels, typical post-race binge food. As you looked at the runners all lined up ready to run the classic Central Park course, some knowing all too well every inch of the course, you realize unlike most 5K/4-miler races, these runners didn’t pay the registration fee for the photos and t-shirts, nor to break their PR, but to run with those who don’t always get the easy opportunity you and I always get when we wake up, lace up, and head out for a run.

The award groups for the race explain how this race is unique. Sure there is an overall division, however the other award groups are: push-rim wheelchair, hand-cycle, ambulatory-disabled, visually-impaired, power-wheelchair, double amputee, below knee ambulatory, and above knee ambulatory. This is a race for all people regardless of disabilities, and one day I hope this is not unique, I hope and believe that one day I’ll sign up for the routine 5k in my hometown and see all persons running regardless of disabilities they may have.

Like BoMF, Achilles International is a non-profit organization that seeks an alternative approach to helping those with disabilities, and of course they use running as a catalyst. Part of their mission statement at Achilles International is: “Achilles provides athletes with disabilities with a community of support. Able-bodied volunteers and disabled runners come together to train in an environment of support and community. Within this community, runners gain measurable physical strength and build confidence through their sense of accomplishment, which often transfers to other parts of their life.” They go on to say, “While our programs focus on running, the truth is, running is simply the tool for accomplishing our main objective: to bring hope, inspiration, and the joys of achievement to all.”

The last sentence resonates a lot with me and what BoMF does with its members. Of course all the staff and volunteers from BoMF and Achilles International alike would love to see all of its members becoming life-long runners but what gives these organizations the most pleasure is seeing smiling faces, and on those smiling faces the signs of self-accomplishment. If you are interested in learning more about Achilles International their website is: http://www.achillesinternational.org/

Well… sometimes!

Did you know that every lamp post in Central Park has four numbers on it, and the first two numbers indicate the cross street that you are next to? Or that if you ask a kind New-Yorker they will let you put sunglasses on their dog? Or even that when you place single shoes at random points in the park no one looks at you funny? Even better how hard it is to take a photo of a turtle with a selfie stick….What do these silly facts have in common? The BoMF annual scavenger hunt of course!

Each year BoMF NYC has a scavenger hunt filled with challenging clues, to find various statues and locations throughout the park, and then of course some silly bonus points you can grab along the way like the ones mentioned above. In my opinion it is the best way to explore Central Park! These social events are another way BoMF keeps running entertaining and exciting for its members as well as volunteers. It’s a less serious (and later in the day) run where you get to learn a lot about everyone on your scavenging team as well as part of the city everyone lives in!

These social events are not only a lot of fun, but highly important for BoMF members. In my opinion these events are a way for members to gain back a sense of trust among others. Trust is a difficult thing for all humans to achieve, let alone if at one point in your life you have been homeless.

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Belvedere Castle in Central Park!

Trusting others and others trusting you takes time, and these events are a way to show members that BoMF volunteers and staff trust the members and love to spend time with them. When all you see is smiles and hear laughter you know it was an awesome event!

Are you from New York City? I attached the clue file here, see how many you can find! If you are around Central Park I challenge you to find one of our shoes that is still floating around there and tag @bomfnyc !!

Up next will be a blog about my first race with BoMF!

 

Back on My Feet Scavenger Hunt 2016 – Clues

 

  1. .Make a wish! This spot commemorates the Croton water system, the system which first brought fresh water to New York City in 1842, and is looked after by an ethereal figure that hovers above
  1. The oldest man-made object in the park, you could call this an ancient Egyptian Queen’s sewing instrument.
  2. Beauty comes from within — a lesson we learned from this famous Danish fairytale writer and his duckling friend!
  3. Don’t expect to find any princesses hiding away here! This folly has been the location of the official Central Park weather station since 1919.
  4. This meditative spot is a designated “Quiet Zone” in the Park, making it a great space to “visualize” your hopes and dreams
  5. This famous sled dog battled woof conditions to help deliver medicine to children in Alaska.
  6. You’re fired if you can’t skate here!

 

  1. You may be late for a very important date, but be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole at this statue.

 

  1. No more is it the winter of our discontent in this poet and playwright’s garden.

 

  1. You might be tempted to Whip and Neigh Neigh here.

           

  1. Initially built as a temporary water source for NYC, this body of water is named after the wife of the 35th US president.
  2. Are you quick as a cat?  This feline statue watches over runners as they fight the uphill battle.

 

  1. Don’t be late!  Snap a pic of the NYC Marathon founder and once-frequent reservoir runner.

 

  1. Come springtime, this Great open space is filled with New Yorkers seeking sunshine.

 

  1. Captain a ship and go for a sail on this body of water– you might even find Stuart Little as your shipmate!

 

  1. Music you’ll hear here but don’t be confused, there aren’t any fruit fields here.

 

  1. Gossip Girls and art lovers can be found on the steps of this famous place

 

  1. If you’re allergic to peanuts and electricity you’ll want to stay away from here

 

  1. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

 

  1. Here you will find the house to Kings and Queens alike

 

  1. When needing to cross troubled water, come here with bow and arrow in hand.

 

 

  1. If you’re in the mood for jazz or an orchestra, come see this man and he’ll give you your fix.

 

  1. Enjoy a delicious dinner with an incredible waterside view here!

 

  1. Goldilocks wouldn’t want to share her porridge with this statue

 

 

Incidental Items

A Picture of Any of the Below Will Earn Your Team an Extra Bonus Point!

 

  1. Two people on a tandem bike (another bonus point if you are photographed riding it!)
  2. A picture of a wedding ceremony or a bride and groom (an extra bonus point if you take a picture with them!)
  3. Someone skating around the Park in old school roller skates – NOT roller blades!
  4. Juggler
  5. The Central Park Wizard
  6. A three or more person band
  7. More than 20 people standing in a line
  8. Dog wearing shoes or sunglasses – feel free to provide the dog with said shoes or sunglasses!
  9. A person walking more than 5 dogs
  10. A turtle living free in the wild
  11. A person you convince to wear a piece of BoMF swag
  12. Your team’s picture with any celebrity (based on a panel of judges) will be rewarded with up to 10 bonus points based upon said celebrity’s “star power”

 

If you were to walk in to the Marriott Marquis in Times Square on June 16th, you’d see something that only happens once a year. Blue and green balloons floating upward, tied down to large sized neon-colored running sneakers. The 6th floor bustling with people in relaxed athletic wear, stuffing goodie bags with energy bars, hats, flyers for upcoming races, and of course a pair of the best socks you can buy!! (Bombas, shameless plug, here is their website: bombas.com). It all seems like a normal event for BoMF, with auction items including personal training, yoga mats, high-tech water bottles, you know fitness stuff! However wait a couple hours, and all of a sudden all these comfortable looking runners are in suits, heels, cocktail dresses, where sock and sports tan lines cannot hide. Over 700 people filing in to have a dinner that they mark on their calendar much earlier in the year. This event is called Footprints and it is BoMF’s annual fundraiser! And boy did it break some records on June 16th! Not only was it there biggest turnout for NYC yet, it was the biggest turnout in all of BoMF history throughout the U.S.!! We met and exceeded our fundraising goal, and the amount of money raised is enough to put BoMF in another facility (whether it’s an emergency shelter, rehabilitation center, etc.) thus allowing another team to be made!! When a new team is created it allows so many more people (residential members) to join BoMF and have a better chance of…well.. getting back on their feet! This also increases our networking to volunteers that might live or work around that neighborhood and that creates a positive loop back to fundraising!

This event was a very special one to be apart of, really seeing first hand how many people really want to make a difference in the world, and want to see a population of people that are a lot of times put in the shadows, SHINE, and brightly at that!!

With closing this blog post, I would like to thank Dickinson for an internship grant I received to have this incredible opportunity to push the boundaries of my comfort zone (aka wearing dress clothes…just kidding…kind of) and really having a personal positive impact. If Dickinson has only taught me one thing (of course we all know it hasn’t…but) it’s to leave Dickinson and not only have a career you enjoy, but to have a career that allows others to enjoy life, and this internship is far exceeding my expectations!

Become “Huggable”

June 11, 2016

As I took the train into NY Penn Station, the 40 minute commute that would soon be my routine I started to feel the excitement and nerves as I thought about what my first day of my summer internship with Back on My Feet NYC (BoMF) would be like. I rushed off the train like all the other daily commuters pretending to be confident and act like I knew where to go. When I made it to the office and introduced myself to everyone, I got greeted with individual hugs from everyone, including the four-legged member of the team. I quickly learned that at BoMF that is the normal way to greet people, I don’t come from a family of “hugers” so this will be a slow transition, ha! Now a hug might seem so simple or silly, but I was informed that studies have shown that five or more positive touches a day can increase your overall well-being. Arguably to the most ignored demographic (the homeless) in today’s society a hug can mean more than I will probably ever understand. From hugs to runs to one on one member services BoMF really does give its members a unique approach to taking back their lives and loving the journey along the way! Check out Back on My Feet NYC for yourself here: http://nyc.backonmyfeet.org/

I have met so many incredible and highly motivated people in the past week, and I am excited to see what the rest of the summer holds!!