When volunteers from Wholly Kicks set up shop at Catholic Charities, the women who call Samaritan House 48th home, if only temporarily, were thrilled. Within an hour, over 220 guests had new shoes. As they waited in line, they sounded like friends who were shoe shopping, chatting about what kind of new shoes they wanted and needed most: walking shoes, boots, dress shoes, slides or sandals. Their enthusiasm radiated throughout the entire building.
“This is such a needed blessing,” said one Samaritan House guest. “I have a job interview tomorrow and need new shoes.” She chatted with her fellow residents while waiting for the event to start. As seen on the smiling faces in those in line, confidence comes from feeling good about yourself.
More than 11,000 pairs of new shoes have been distributed to neighbors experiencing homelessness in the Denver metro area, thanks to Wholly Kicks, a Colorado non-profit that partners with Catholic Charities and other organizations. Focused on “walking with” those in impoverished areas or those who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness, the organization’s mission is to help our neighbors walk toward a brighter day.
One of the reasons why Catholic Charities’ loves partnering with Wholly Kicks is that they not only provide brand new shoes to our residents and participants, but they also provide a full shopping experience. During the event, neighbors who live at Samaritan House were greeted by volunteers who first ushered them to the new sock section. Next, they were directed to the area where they could shop for the size and style of shoes they wanted most.
Just like a true, in-store experience, they were able to able to browse, try on any pair they liked and decide whether it was the perfect match for them. The shopping experience provided all of our guests with the dignity they deserve and the experience they don’t get to enjoy often enough.
Tyg Taylor, Wholly Kicks’ Founder and Executive Director, launched the program after meeting a gentleman who was experiencing homelessness in Aurora. His words stuck with him: “I always wanted to walk in the shoes that Jesus walked in, but I suppose you can only walk in the shoes God gives you!”
As the women at Samaritan House will tell you – new shoes can put a pep in someone’s step and help them walk towards a brighter future.