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Making a Difference One Step at a Time | Everything Counts!
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Making a Difference One Step at a Time | Everything Counts!

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Ann Mahlum had learned long ago that running brought her confidence, strength and self-esteem. Believing that it could also promote self-sufficiency in the homeless population, Mahlum did not go at …

Ann Mahlum had learned long ago that running brought her confidence, strength and self-esteem. Believing that it could also promote self-sufficiency in the homeless population, Mahlum did not go at the problem in the traditional manner.

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  • 1. Making a Difference One Step at a Time Anne Mahlum - CNN Hero When someone does something so right, so honest and, yes, so commendable, attention must be paid. A focus on unique contribution allows one to make deposits into their sphere of influence in such a way that looking away is not an option. Ann Mahlum is one such person who deserves all the attention she can handle. I was first drawn to Ann’s story by way of the CNN Heroes initiative. This is a brilliant program which focuses on ordinary people making extraordinary contributions. They search the globe for people whose selflessness, dedication and achievement are making a difference and positively impacting the world. Ann’s story goes like this at 5 a.m. on any given day, she could be found running the dark streets of Philadelphia — with homeless men cheering her on as she passed their shelter. But one morning during the spring of 2007, she stopped in her tracks. It’s a day that changed her life and, in the time since, has changed hundreds of others. Her decision has even saved a few lives, like that of James Singletary - a man who thought he lost it all until he found Anne and the group she founded, Back on My Feet. Ann Mahlum had learned long ago that running brought her confidence, strength and self- esteem. Believing that it could also promote self-sufficiency in the homeless population, Mahlum did not go at the problem in the traditional manner. No direct goal to provide anyone food - no move to provide anyone shelter. Just an addict who understood addiction and how to channel it. A young lady who had in mind the idea to provide these homeless men a community, a place that could foster some respect while teaching discipline and teamwork. A place where they could feel a sense of support.
  • 2. And then, once that community was in place, Mahlum provided, through her own example, the motivation needed for these men to move towards self-sufficiency. For Mahlum, it wasn’t just about running; it was about creating a community that helped each of these individuals regain their dignity; it was about a process that was complete only when each of them has a stable job and a place to live. But make no mistake about it, for Mahlum, running was the catalyst. From the “Back on My Feet” web site: “Running is one of the most empowering activities there is because there is no end. There is always another mile, another road, another right turn. There is no buzzer and there is no referee. It has taught me so much about life, especially the simple notion that to get anywhere, you have to take it one step at a time.”