Viewpoints: Board & Staff

Meet Jacqie McWilliams, CIAA (Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association) Commissioner and Samaritan’s Feet Board of Directors member, and Terry Tolbert, Associate Director of Corporate Engagement for Samaritan’s Feet. Both have been a part of the Samaritan’s Feet team for years and have worked extensively together through the CIAA and Samaritan’s Feet partnership. See below for perspectives from a Board Member and a Staff Member on why they love being part of Samaritan’s Feet:

How did you first get involved with Samaritan’s Feet?

Jacqie: As the previous director of the Men’s NCAA Basketball tournament, I managed community and external partnerships for the Final Four. After reviewing and getting approval of the Samaritan’s Feet proposal in 2009, we distributed 2,009 pairs of shoes in the host city, Detroit. We had a responsibility to make a difference in Final Four host city communities that were making an investment in our event. What I loved most while serving in these communities was that we were intentional about serving families, youth, elderly, special needs, and the disabled. Where there was a need for shoes, we identified it. And since 2009, I have been a fan and supporter of this great organization where I have physically seen how lives have been changed.  

Terry: I was working in corporate America, but was also involved in doing training for pastors around the world. I wanted to go to Africa, so I called Manny, whom I’ve known for about 15 years, to see if he knew any pastors there who could benefit from training. Manny connected me with a pastor in Uganda and it was confirmation from God that it was time. I came back from that Uganda trip and quit my job in corporate America with no plan, and I don’t normally do things that way. I had a breakfast with Manny about a week later to discuss the trip and I told him that it was so dynamic for me that I quit my job. Next thing I know, Manny and I started discussing how I could be a part of the Samaritan’s Feet team while doing a couple of these trips a year. 

What’s a memorable moment you’ve experienced with Samaritan’s Feet?

Jacqie: Every moment with Samaritan’s Feet is special. I took my daughter Samone on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and it was incredible. I loved watching her work, lead, and serve other children who were her age. And in 2012 at the Men’s Final Four in New Orleans, I will never forget serving a woman who was a 102 years old and also serving a middle school boy whose shoes were so worn that his toes were sticking out. When I put a new pair of shoes on his feet, he smiled and hugged me so tightly that tears flowed down my cheeks. Those are memories that still fill my spirit today. They remind me how blessed I am to be part of an organization that sees and attacks needs with love and intention.

Terry: The lady in Kentucky. This 22 year old woman called us and said she had received shoes about 10 years before. She told us that she didn’t remember the shoes or event too much, but she did remember the woman who was washing her feet. She remembered that woman telling her, “don’t quit.” She explained how those words helped her one night when she was studying at college. She said, “I was ready to quit. I was exhausted, but I remembered those encouraging words—it got me through that night, that semester, and then I graduated with a nursing degree.”

What is the impact of the CIAA partnering with Samaritan’s Feet?

Jacqie: I am grateful that the CIAA and its partners, members, and specifically student-athletes, value the opportunity to engage on their own campuses and during our championships to make real-time impact. It is a meaningful partnership through sports, where I believe we have the greatest opportunity to model and serve beyond the game to give hope through the avenue of shoes. 

Terry: Charlotte has hosted the CIAA tournament for several years, which brings in students, fans, and alumni from all over the United States. Our relationship with the CIAA, in addition to the shoe distribution that we typically do during the tournament, gives us the ability to present our distribution platform to a larger audience and demonstrate servant leadership around the basketball tournament. Previously, we were mainly engaged with a shoe distribution around the tournament. This year, with the CIAA and their partners, like Van Wagner, Links, and Crown Jewels, we are positioned to send multiple containers of shoes (60,000 pairs) to the Bahamas, to help provide relief for storm victims. In addition, several CIAA coaches have become Barefoot Coaches and several schools are looking to raise funds for shoe distributions on their local campuses.

Why do you believe in the mission of Samaritan’s Feet?

Jacqie: The mission of Samaritan’s Feet aligns with my personal and professional mission to make a difference for a better tomorrow. There is a spiritual connection through giving hope, prayers, and love through shoes.

Terry: I wasn’t aware of the 1.5 billion people who have foot-borne diseases due to the lack of proper footwear. I think I’d seen it around the world, but I didn’t realize it was an epidemic. That was one of the things that rocked me and it’s something that’s solvable. So many things around the world aren’t, but that’s a solvable problem.

Why do you love being a part of the Samaritan’s Feet team?

Jacqie: I want to be part of something bigger than me that reaches further than I can even understand. As a member of the Board of Directors, I have a greater opportunity to influence, use my platform, share ideas, gifts, and talents to assist with reaching the goals of this organization and the vision of Manny and Tracie. It is a higher level of accountability to do my part in raising awareness, identifying resources, and strategic partnership that will #count2zero.  

Terry: The team is focused around a cause. It makes a difference when things get hard or you get frustrated, you know there is a greater purpose.