The Power of Hope in Philadelphia
“You can’t walk around center city Philadelphia for five minutes without seeing someone who is experiencing homelessness.”
Vito Baldini, Director of Mercy Ministry of Liberti Church in Philadelphia, Pa., describes the city he loves so dearly and the hardships his community can face. “Many people who are homeless have to travel far to get their basic needs met. So they may need to travel five to six blocks to get a meal, and then they may need to travel 15 to get the next one or to see a doctor. They are walking all the time,” adds Baldini.
With shoes as the main method of transportation for those experiencing homelessness, it becomes an incredibly important necessity to survive and also, thrive, in life. And not only do shoes have their physical benefits, but it can also change someone’s outlook on their current situation.
“One of the biggest things for the homeless population is foot care. To be given shoes, they can walk around and feel good about themselves and also have something on their feet that is sustainable for them…I believe in ‘look good, feel good,’ so I think these new shoes will be huge for them,” said Luther Wood, Assistant Project Manager at ProjectHOME.
Seeing the short-term and long-term benefits shoes can have on this large group of people in Philadelphia, Samaritan’s Feet moved forward with an audacious goal: serve 2,000 people experiencing homelessness alongside Philadelphia-based organizations who are making a difference throughout the city.
In addition to providing a new pair of socks and properly-fitting shoes, volunteers washed recipients’ feet and talked with them one-on-one.
This time was filled with tender conversations about families, accomplishments that recipients were proud of, and hardships. It ushered in an overwhelming spirit of unity, humanity, and ultimately, hope.
The shoes made an impact, but so did the interactions.
“Most of the homeless guests we work with feel invisible, they feel rejected, they feel dismissed in society. An event like this, where they will have a human touch of someone else washing their feet, praying with them, looking them in the eye and giving them compassion and care, it can change their life in an instant,” said Jeremy Montgomery, President/CEO at Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission.
Samaritan’s Feet believes the moments spent in Philadelphia will go far beyond that weekend—that compassion and kindness permeates the heart of those served and the community members who served, so that hope stands above all throughout the city.
Baldini added, “a lot of those experiencing homelessness just need a chance, they need someone to believe in them.”
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