October 11, 2010 at 1:30 pm , by Jill Jansson
Hi ladies! We’re Jill and Lauren, two editorial interns here at LHJ for the fall semester. We want to share with you the eye-opening experience of working with Soles4Souls at Safe Horizon, where we had the opportunity to help teens in need.
Silvana and Allan Clark, “Sole Ambassadors” for the Nashville-based charity Soles4Souls, have been traveling around the United States for 19 months on a mission to collect and give away shoes to those in need. As per the charity’s motto, their aim is to change the world, “one pair at a time.”
Last year, we here at LHJ were thrilled to partner with Silvana and Allan, as well as with longtime celebrity Soles supporter Kellie Pickler. We capped off a company-wide shoe drive by collecting more donations outside of Madison Square Garden, as Kellie’s fans headed in to hear her open up for Taylor Swift during a stop on the teen sensation’s Fearless tour.
When Silvana and Allan told us they’d be back in NYC last week, we were excited to meet up with them again. They were going to be doing a shoe giveaway at the Lower East Side’s Safe Horizons youth division, getting much needed brand new footwear to some of the city’s homeless youth. The cool, rainy weather that greeted us that day really drove home how important Soles’ mission is.
Read on after the jump to find out about our latest Soles4Souls experience and how you can help as well.
After meeting up with the Clarks and Kyoko Sagara, assistant director of the Lower East Side’s Safe Horizon shelter, we watched as teens filed into Safe Horizon’s basement with wet, worn-out shoes. It had been raining pretty steadily that day, which really made us realize how easy it is to take for granted having shoes that are completely intact.
We then helped the youths—aged 15 to 23—choose a clean, dry pair from the assortment of sneakers that lined the room, sent out from Soles4Souls’ warehouse in Tennessee. The charity regularly makes shipments like this to organizations all around the world, including to groups such as Safe Horizon, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, battered women shelters, the Association of Torture Survivors, and others. Since its start in 2004, Soles4Souls has donated more than 11.5 million shoes to date, at an average of one new pair every 7 seconds.
“Most of us look at shoes and say, ‘Do I want to wear my cute pink shoes or do I want to wear my cute blue shoes today?’” Silvana noted to us. “Whereas, for some people it is, simply, ‘Do I have a pair of shoes?’ People come in with the holes in the bottom of their shoes, and the flaps are duct-taped together. One guy came in once and said he wore a size 13,” Silvana recalled about a man she’d met at a similar shoe distribution. “He actually wore a 16, and he said, ‘I didn’t know shoes could feel like this.’ ”
Kyoko says that success for Safe Horizon is rebuilding the trust relationship between the teens and a caregiver figure. “A lot of clients that come here don’t even believe that that exists,” she says. Giving them shoes is an example of “hands-on care that heals their wound,” she adds. One runaway teen from a broken home we met that day has been hopping freight trains for 8 years, making his way around the country. He told us that he’s still “trying to be a better human being.” Could these sneakers make that happen? Silvana thinks so. She knows that being able to walk down the street without your feet hurting makes a difference in these teens’ self-esteem. “You walk a little straighter, a little faster,” she tells us. “There’s a little bit of hope, and maybe things will look up.”
To read more about Silvana and Allan’s travels across the country, follow their Soles4Souls RV Tour blog here. To find out ways you can donate to or volunteer for Soles4Souls, be sure to visit soles4souls.org. And for more information about Safe Horizon, please visit safehorizon.org.
Categories: Do Good, Ladies' Lounge | Tags: Association of Torture Survivors, Battered women shelters, Boys' and Girls' Clubs, homeless teens, Kellie Pickler, Safe Horizon, shoe drive, Silvana and Allan Clark, Soles4Souls | 19 Comments
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