Street2Feet: Fitness for the Homeless Offers Health and Hope in Downtown San Antonio

Print Share on LinkedIn Comments More
Heather Angel Chandler

I first met Heather Angel Chandler at Geekdom, the technology incubator located on the ultra hip open-space 11th floor of the Weston Centre in downtown San Antonio, underwritten by Rackspace Hosting co-founders Graham Weston and Pat Condon. You have to experience Geekdom to understand it. It’s a hi tech magnet with a big gravitational pull attracting young Internet entrepreneurs near and far.

Chandler is a San Antonio native and the owner of startup Innovative Multimedia Group, a full-service video production and web development company.  She’s trying to build a company that turns the services of many of these young programmers and designers into a business. Prior to founding IMG five years ago, she worked as an award-winning television news reporter and anchor at stations in Beaumont, Las Vegas, and San Antonio.

We’re pleased to welcome her to The Rivard Report with her first multimedia story, one that focuses  on a volunteer initiative at the Haven for Hope that ought to make all of us feel a little better about the city we call home.                                                                                                                                                   –Robert Rivard

Story and video by Heather Angel Chandler

Heather Angel Chandler

It’s 8 a.m. on a chilly February Wednesday morning in San Antonio.  Drivers hurry along Interstate 10 near North Frio Street– talking on their cell phones, sipping their lattes.  The commuters don’t seem to notice the mass of bodies forming in the adjacent Garcia Park.  Despite the soggy weather conditions, the group of men and women has gathered to stretch before a round of exercise. As it happens, they are members of San Antonio’s homeless community.  Their ranks include recovering drug addicts, ex-cons, former prostitutes, people with tough luck stories who now share a common desire.  They want to heal and start anew.

The group is part of a volunteer 5k training program called Street2Feet. They train at Garcia Park at 1200 N. Frio every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday morning.  Elizabeth Rosenblum co-founded Street2Feet with her friend Meg Cullip four years ago.  Street2Feet is unique to San Antonio, but Rosenblum says she and Cullip were inspired by a national program called Back on my Feet.  Rosenblum says when it comes to tackling our city’s homeless problem, teaching them to jog typically does not come to mind.

Elizabeth Rosenblum, Cofounder of Street2Feet

Elizabeth Rosenblum, Cofounder of Street2Feet

“In its heart it’s really just a wellness program encouraging people to build skills for a successful life,” says Rosenblum.

Prior to co-founding Street2Feet, Rosemblum worked for nearly a decade at San Antonio’s Laurel Ridge Treatment Center, helping people with psychiatric disorders recover through therapeutic recreation.  She says creating Street2Feet was the natural next step for her.

Rosemblum has teamed up with SAMMinistries and Haven for Hope as a way to help homeless people build skills like self-discipline, goal-setting, and self-confidence.

“I can feel the difference mentally, spiritually, and physically,” says Khrystl Blakeley.

Blakeley is a recovering crack addict in Haven for Hope’s recovery program.  She has taken part in the Street2Feet program only a few times, but she is already noticing a difference.

“All the drugs have done so much damage to my body, but now I feel stronger and like I’m healing inside,” says Blakeley.  “The days that I walk I feel like my mind is clearer and while I’m here at the park I talk to God. It’s spiritual.”

Rosenblum says the goal is for Street2Feet participants to walk or jog 30 miles per week.  If they do, they are able to earn rewards like bus passes.

“Some people say the homeless are just coming out here to get free bus passes.  Maybe that’s true at first, but once they experience how much better they feel once they are physically fit, they stay in the program because of that,” says Rosenblum.

Ralph Wooster says he’s a long-time Street2Feet participant and the physical activity has helped his health improve dramatically.

Khrystl Blakely, Strett2Feet Participant

Khrystl Blakely, Strett2Feet Participant

“I had type 2 diabetes and because I walk 30 miles a week I don’t have diabetes anymore,” says Wooster.

Despite being disabled and using a walker to get around, Wooster completed the 2012 Toyota Street2Feet 5k that was held February 15 in downtown San Antonio.  It took him about an hour to finish the 5 kilometer race. Wooster says it wasn’t about coming in first–but about setting a goal for himself and accomplishing it.

“It hurt towards the end but it felt good to finish”, says Wooster.  “I’m just taking it one step at a time.  After I leave Haven for Hope, I’m going to find a home and stay clean and sober.”

Danny Pucket assisted with video production of this story.

15 thoughts on “Street2Feet: Fitness for the Homeless Offers Health and Hope in Downtown San Antonio

  1. Great article and video, very inspirational. Love it, this has motivated me to look into the organization and participate. Thank you for the info.

  2. Pingback: IMG’s first multimedia story on The Rivard Report | Innovative Multimedia Group Blog

  3. I really enjoyed this story. So often we get preoccupied with our own lives that we don’t notice the struggles homeless families face everyday. Whether we like it or not, we are all one illness or loss away from being homeless ourselves. I appreciated the statement from the lady in the video story who says that people are always judging the homeless. I think what this organization and SAM and Haven for Hope are doing are is really getting to the heart of the problem and helping people. Thank you for sharing this positive and inspiring story.

  4. Yes, to Street2Feet! Thank you to Elizabeth Rosenblum and Meg Cullip for empowering folks to work toward healthier choices. I was touched by the openess and determination of Khrystl Blakeley as she shared her story. Yes & thank you to Heather Chandler and Danny Puckett of IMG for the insightful article and sensitive & meaningful video interviews! Yes, and thank you to the Rivard Report for highlighting positive, important and salient issues in San Antonio!

  5. It is so good to see such a positive story concerning these formerly homeless men and women. Bravo to all who are making it happen and continued success to the participants.

  6. Great video and uplifting article! I had no idea such a program existed. No more excuses… if they can walk 30 miles a week, it’s time to get my rear in gear! Kudos to all the participants!

  7. WOW, what an encouraging program we have in Street2feet; thank you, Ms. Rosenblum, her cofounder and crew of volunteers. I’m a fan! Interviews got to the point and were respectfully presented. Bravos and ovations to Ms. Chandler and IMG.

  8. Bring us more stories like this! We can never be inspired enough. Thank you for highlighting an initiative that deserves some recognition.

  9. I am working to have our Physical Therapy students from UT Health Science Center volunteer to help with the running training times.
    Great opportunity to see the positive effects of exercise and all aspects of health!

  10. I’m curre2cfrntly staying at haven for hope and love this idea not only for the health benefits but to feel a bit more normal. Humanity is a delicate thing and staying here it slowly gets pulled away from you. The only problem I have is finding shoes. No charity has any tennis shoes

  11. Pingback: Img Group | IMG’s first multimedia story on The Rivard Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *