A Hardly Normal Encounter

1 Comment 21 April 2010

From left to right: Stephan (from Path Achieve), Tim Daley (volunteer with GYS), Mark Horvath (, Myself

From left to right: Stephan (from Path Achieve), Tim Daley (volunteer with GYS), Mark Horvath (, Myself

When I started Give Your Sole almost a year ago I joined Twitter in hopes of meeting other people who make it a point in their life to do what they can to make a difference in this world.  I started to follow many different charitable organizations and those who run them.  I came across a guy who went by the handle @hardlynormal and had Animal from the Muppets as his avatar photo.  @hardlynormal runs a site called that tells the stories, via video, of people across this nation who are homeless. The combination of his handle, Animal and his site told me this was a guy who wasn’t worried about ruffling feathers when it came to bringing attention to the biggest issue our country, and others, will face this century – homelessness and poverty.

I began to tweet and re-tweet between those I followed.  Eventually @hardlynormal and I connected on the phone but missed a few opportunities to meet.  That all changed this past week.  I collected 180 pairs from some of my Southern California donors: Competitor Group, Rehab United and The Design People. I knew that @hardlynormal worked a lot with Path Achieve in Glendale.  Path Achieve works to help people who are homeless get back on track and place them in permanent housing.  I got in touch with @hardlynormal and shared with him I had 180 pairs I needed to donate and wanted to meet up with him at Path Achieve.  To my luck, he was all for it!

A good friend of mine and GYS volunteer, Tim Daley, and I loaded my truck with all the shoes and headed to Glendale.  We arrived a bit early, which I planned on, in hopes of catching @hardlynormal doing one of his many webinars on social media.  Sure enough, he sat down at a table in the middle of the shelter minutes after my arrival and began.  A man on a mission.  Bringing awareness to the homeless issue all through use of social media.  The webinar lasted about a half hour.  As the webinar continued Tim and Stephan, a Path Achieve Case Manager, began to sort the shoes by sizes as our next step would be to hit the streets of Glendale California in search of people in need of shoes.

As we hopped in the van and set out through the streets of Glendale to hand out shoes, you would have thought Stephan and @hardlynormal were running for Mayor.  They knew every person on the street, by name!  “Oh, there’s Bill.  That’s where Jim stays. That’s where Ellie sleeps. Man, I hate to see John out here again, just wish he would come into the shelter.”  This went on the whole time we were out. The shoes give Stephan a reason to approach each person which helps create that first step in building a relationship. If Stephan can get a conversation going he will do everything he can to try and help that person off the street and into Path Achieve so they can help them find permanent housing.

These fit better

These fit better

The gentleman adjusting his ball cap in this picture was in dire need of some shoes and we asked him his size.  He said he was a 10 or 10 1/2. Luckily we had both sizes with us but I also grabbed an 11 (just so happened to be a pair of shoes Tim donated) out of the back of the van just in case. First we tried the 10 1/2 and they were too tight.  Next was the 11, Tims pair, and they fit like a glove. The reason I share this with you is many people can’t remember their shoe size.  In some cases it has been years since they tried on a new pair of shoes.  Either they can’t remember the size of their feet or their feet are so swollen from walking all day, every day, all year, that their normal size doesn’t fit anymore.

Dottie found a pair

Dottie found a pair

Next we came across Dottie. From @hardlynormal’s reaction when we turned the corner and saw her on the street you would have thought he just won the lottery. He was so filled with joy he couldn’t stop shouting in the van, “There’s Dottie, there’s Dottie!”  We pulled the van up next to her and @hardlynormal jumped out of the van so filled with excitement he almost got himself attacked by Dottie’s dog.  My first thought was, how tough it would be to have a dog on the street; but it was obvious she took good care of it and he took good care of her.  As @hardlynormal and Stephan talked with Dottie, Tim and I dug through the shoes to find her a pair.  Again, it took 3 pairs to finally find the right size for her.  We offered her another pair but she insisted we keep them for someone else who might need them.  Dottie is someone I won’t soon forget and I quickly realized what @hardlynormal saw in her. Then again, @hardlynormal sees something special in everyone he comes in contact with.

The Poor. The Needy. The Less Fortunate. Call it whatever makes you comfortable or uncomfortable for that matter, but at least recognize it and do something.  That’s what Mark Horvath, aka @hardlynormal, did.  So he picked up a video camera and is showing the world what it means to be homeless, ways to make a difference and what it looks like to be relentless in getting the message out there.

Thanks Mark for sharing with me your passion, your knowledge, and that we can always do more. That we must do more.


- who has written 75 posts on Give Your Sole.

Contact the author

Your Comments

1 comment

  1. Natalie says:

    Thank you for all that each one of you do!!!

Share your view

Post a comment

© 2010 Give Your Sole. Powered by Wordpress.

Daily Edition Theme by WooThemes - Premium Wordpress Themes