Archive for March, 2010

“Dirty” Participants Donate Shoes to Soles4Souls

March 30, 2010

Columbia Sportswear is partnering with Soles4Souls at their “Muddy Buddy” events. Last week, our family friend and super volunteer Kelli Thoma, helped collect shoes at the Temecula, California event. Her truck was brimming with donated shoes!
Columbia Muddy Buddy Ride & Run events are adventure races that require two-person teams to navigate a six to seven-mile mountain bike and trail-running course containing five obstacles. Each event’s signature finale involves both teammates belly-crawling through a 60-foot-long mud pit before crossing the finish line. Kids between the ages of 4 and 13 can also join in the fun as a part of the Columbia Mini Muddy Buddy in which they complete a short obstacle course and slither through the same mud pit as the grown-ups.
The 10-year-old Muddy Buddy Series, which has become known for eccentric costumes and entertaining post race festivities, hosts between 900 and 1,800 two-person teams at each event and has responded to this growing popularity by expanding from 8 to 18 events over the last three years.
We’re just glad people donated shoes before they participated in the race!


Off to see the Queen

March 29, 2010

Was it Sondra's angelic appearance that got her into Oxford?

If there’s one thing I’ve tried to teach my daughters Trina and Sondra, is to be persistent in going after what they want. That’s why I’m so happy that Sondra didn’t give up when she applied for a prestigious study abroad program at Oxford University in England. She met all the qualifications except…her grade point was just shy of what was required. After being told she couldn’t be accepted, Sondra went on a “Get into Oxford” campaign. With extra letters of recommendation and a detailed portfolio that included documentation of her volunteer work in Africa, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Peru and in the US, plus copies of her published books, she let the admissions director know what she wanted. Evidently it worked, because we got a call telling us she got into the program. I think that’s what she said. It was hard to understand her in her excitement. So, for the same price as a semester in Azusa California, she’ll be heading off and probably will talk her way into meeting the Queen of England. Let’s see. If she marries Prince William or Prince Harry, does that make me royalty also? I’ve always wanted to live in a castle.

“Cheep” Thrills

March 28, 2010

OK…I admit that living in an RV forces us to be creative in unusual ways. We don’t have access to libraries, theatres and other activities when we are parked at a remote campground. So we make our own entertainment. A few days ago, Allan and I had taken a long bike ride, cleaned the RV, read a few magazines and didn’t feel like watching TV. So we did what any other couple would do. Allan stuck crackers under the windshield wipers and we watched the birds come to our “Cracker Shoppe” to get their dinner.

Happy Shoe Recipients

March 25, 2010

More reactions from men at Harvest Farms

He told me, "These are the most comfortable boots I've ever worn!"

Deciding between two great boots

People in US Without Shoes

March 25, 2010

Young girl receives her own shoes

We all probably know someone on a limited budget that scrimp when it comes to owning shoes. Yet it is shocking to find people who only own one pair of tattered shoes or no shoes at all. That’s what we saw at a recent Soles4Souls shoe distribution. A young girl came in and sat down like all the others. I asked her shoe size and she said she didn’t know what it was. So I casually asked if I could look at her shoes to find the size. She quietly said, “These aren’t my shoes.” I assured her that wasn’t a problem and just brought her a few pairs of shoes to try on. I was shocked to see that her old shoes had holes and barely any sole left. We found her a great fitting pair of tennis shoes. As she stood to leave, she said, “Thank you. I didn’t own any shoes.” You can bet she got another pair of shoes to take home!

A few minutes later, a woman came in and told me she owned one pair of shoes, which she bought three years ago. She slipped them off and I saw she wore them with the heels flattened down, because they were too small. Her socks were also wet because the shoes had holes in the soles. The tears in her eyes as she left showed me we were making a difference!

Snowman Takes on Personality

March 24, 2010

Yes, it is officially spring, but not in Denver. We had over a foot of snow last night. Not just gentle, light flakes. Instead, the snow came whipping down with high winds, lightening and thunder. We wimped out and stayed in a hotel rather than shivering in the RV. Today we watched some dads and their sons build a 15 foot giant snowman. We overheard a kid say, “We need something for the eyes, mouth and nose. Can’t we find any rocks or anything?” Allan, (who obviously needs to be around kids some more) quickly decided to help. He grabbed a black shoe box (which we just happened to have!) and cut out round circles for the eyes and nose, along with a big, happy cardboard smile. Then he trudged through the snow in his tennis shoes and gave the “face” to the dads and boys. They loved receiving the face, even if it came from a complete stranger. The snowman kept taking shape, topped with a perfectly shaped hat. Once again, Allan wanted to be part of this event. He found an American flag in the RV and delivered it to the snowman makers. The flag was a perfect addition to their creation. It wasn’t long until people stopped by to photograph and marvel at this stunning snowman.

Trek Bikes Keep us in Shape

March 24, 2010

What a difference quality makes! In the past, Allan and I have bought bikes at a discount store or even at garage sales. Hey! I led a month-long bike tour through Europe riding on a $79.00 bike from K-Mart. On this Soles4Souls RV Tour, we’ve been fortunate to have two quality Trek bikes. They are amazing! We take an 18 mile ride and the gears let us keep going up hills with a minimum of huffing. I always yell to Allan, “I love my bike! It’s like pedaling through soft butter!” (Not that anyone would want to do that.)

We recently rode on the Jordan River bike trail in Salt Lake City. On the way home, Allan’s bike sprang a leak so we had to stop and pump up the tires every few miles. Never fear. Once we got home, Allan patched up the tire and we are ready for our next ride.

Best Distribution Ever!!

March 24, 2010

What a way to start the day! Yesterday we got an early start by distributing new boots to the residents at Harvest Farm in the Denver area. Driving up, we saw cows, llamas, chickens, goats, calves and all the other animals connected with a working farm.
Harvest Farm is a 209-acre farm and rehabilitation center for men, located in Wellington, Colorado, 70 miles north of Denver. The Farm accommodates up to 72 men who participate in a long-term treatment program.
Men determined to break cycles of addiction and poverty are referred to the Farm by detox facilities, social service agencies, and the legal system. Once there, they find educational, spiritual, and emotional support to assist their transition into society.

This nationally recognized rehabilitation program combines academics, Bible study, work therapy, and spiritual and emotional counseling in a curriculum extending up to 27 months.
What impressed Allan and I was the professionalism and respect the staff showed men in the program. I overheard Brad, as he helped a resident find the correct size boot, say, “Take your time in walking around. We want to find the best boot for your foot.” The residents were all so polite and friendly. Many of them told us how they spend hours in the dairy barn, milking cows and mucking the barn. They were so happy getting new boots, especially the Bogs weatherproof boots. One man actually danced a jig for all of us because he was so glad to have shoes instead of his ripped canvas shoes. Another staff person told us how many men arrive at the farm wearing shorts and flip flops and bringing everything they own in a backpack. Suddenly these men are working in the barns and fields in inclement weather. He told me how he struggles to get them proper work clothes.“You don’t know how this has relieved my mind to know we have boots for all our residents,” he said.
I know all the shoe manufacturers that donated boots will be happy to know their donations are greatly appreciated.
We felt blessed to be able to meet the amazing men in this rehabilitation program.

Forget First Impressions

March 23, 2010

Size 15 shoes!

We all know we shouldn’t judge people by our first impressions. That’s what I should have remembered when we pulled up to a men’s mission in Salt Lake City. Normally I have no apprehension being with homeless men, drug addicts or even gang members. But I did get a few butterflies when I saw some of the men waiting in line to come in and get their new shoes. There seemed to be a “scarier” element than I was used to. Visually they looked more down and out than men at other shelters, plus many were pacing and talking to themselves in a very agitated state. Yet within a few minutes of being with these men, I knew I had misjudged them. As I fitted each person for shoes, we had friendly banter and communication. One man, as he was taking off his old shoes said, “I apologize. My feet will probably stink when I take off these ratty shoes.” I simply told him I was used to Allan’s smelly feet. We laughed like old friends. Many of the men wore shoes way too small. As we got them fitted with the correct size, they all said, “It’s so nice to be able to wiggle my toes!” Another man came in and quietly said, “You probably don’t have any size 15 shoes.” “Size 15?” I said. “Ha! We even have size 16!” He was so happy to have a pair of high quality shoes that fit. He returned a few minutes later and told me how he wanted to thank us again, because his new shoes were waterproof and also had arch support. He beamed as he walked away.

Not your Typical Shower

March 22, 2010

Allan's shower in the middle of an El Salvadoran kitchen was at least warm!

Think about the last shower you took. Was it anything like my experience at the state campground on Antelope Island?
• I gathered my cute plastic basket with soap, shampoo, etc.
• Left the RV and walked a block through bitter cold and wind to shower.
• Opened shower door and saw it cost $1.00 for 4 minutes. (I’m cheap. That seems too high for some water.)
• Walked back to RV through wind and cold to round up 4 quarters.
• Clutching my 4 quarters, walked back to shower, really feeling the 20 degree temperature.
• Closed the shower “room” and felt the freezing cold brick floor plus the draft coming from the screens on the two upper windows. (Draft is an understatement. More like a snow blower blasting directly on me.)
• Inserted my precious quarters and turned on the water.
• Tested the water temperature with my hand.
• Cold water.
• Colder water.
• Freezing water. All the time I want to scream “Hurry and get warm. You’re wasting valuable time!”
• Water remains at an “un-showerable”.
• Staying fully dressed, I stuck my head under the shower and set a world record in shampooing.
• By the time I walked back to the RV, I had brain freeze from the cold water and even colder wind.
Care to join us on the Soles4Souls RV Tour?