Chicago Rock ‘n’ Rollers Unite!

Chicago, Chicago, Events, Rescue Missions

Chicago Rock ‘n’ Rollers Unite!

No Comments 27 July 2010

Chicago Skyline

Chicago Illinois, to some is considered, “The Windy City”,  “Chi-Town, “The Chill”, “Chicagoland”, “The City of Broad Shoulders”, and even “New Gotham”.  To others living below the poverty level it’s considered just another place to survive.  The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless reports that there are 21,000 homeless people in Chicago on any given night.  Men. Women. Children. Families.

Give Your Sole hopes to alleviate some of the stress involved for these families when having to decide how to spend what money they do have. That is why we are excited to be partnering again with Breakthrough Urban Ministries and donating to them the shoes we collect from the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon Health and Fitness Expo.

Some of the shoes collected at the 2009 Chicago Rock 'n' Roll 1/2 Marathon

Over the past seventeen years, Breakthrough Urban Ministries has provided sanctuary to more than 10,000 homeless people in Chicago seeking shelter from the effects of poverty and addiction.

For seven years, Breakthrough Urban Ministries has provided a network of support to over 500 children and their families seeking hope for a better future.

Each year, Breakthrough Urban Ministries serves…

64,000 meals to homeless men and women.

240 homeless men and women who find safe harbor in Breakthrough’s shelters.

120 homeless women by providing 24/7 shelter and free health care to those without insurance or Medicaid.

I’d like to thank Arloa Sutter , the leader and founder of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, for all her and her team does to partner with Give Your Sole making this such a great event for both parties.

Being born in Central Illinois I’m always excited to be able to work with organizations in Chicago and those who want to give back to their hometowns. That is why for this event we are fortunate to also partner with the Luol Deng Foundation founded by Professional Chicago Basketball star Luol Deng.  While our focus continues to be on those domestically who find themselves homeless or in need, we also realize that many across the globe face many similar, if not worse, circumstances.  Recently, Adam Andre, the director of the Luol Deng Foundation, returned from a trip with Luol to his hometown in Sudan where he saw first hand the degree of poverty only few can imagine.  Being friends with Adam and him knowing we would be in town collecting shoes at this event he reached out to me in hopes of being the recipient of whatever we could offer from our collection efforts. That is why I decided since we would be collecting for 3 days that we would donate the shoes we collect on race day to help their cause.  I’d like to thank Adam and Luol for thinking of us when they saw a need for shoes and having the desire to work together in hopes of providing much needed shoes to those living in poverty in the Sudan region.  We are happy the timing worked out for us to be able to form such a partnership during this event.

I’ve come to realize that as much pain as we see, we aren’t going to be able to help everyone not only in our great nation but those abroad. However, seeing these things will never stop us from trying and if a friend of mine has a heart for wanting to help others, I’m not about to stand in his way should he come to me. Knowing the tremendous hearts that all the Rock ‘n’ Roll runners and participants have from doing so many events I’d like to thank you in advance for the donations you are about to be make that will not only unite our three great organizations but more importantly unite those who “have” with those who “have not”.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

Events, Rescue Missions, Seattle, Seattle

Follow the Signs

2 Comments 02 July 2010

Under this sign everyone has shoes.

Under this sign people need shoes

What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like. – Saint Augustine

Last week took us to Seattle for the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon & 1/2 Marathon.  Seattle is a city I have a love for because of my wife calling it home. Many friends and family remain in the rainy city.  I had been looking forward to attending this event ever since we missed it’s inaugural race last year.

To begin with, I had an amazing group of friends who I met all on Twitter that were helping me promote we would be in Seattle.  My friend Ryan Hodgson from Team Up for Non-Profits introduced me to Debbie Whitlock who hosts a radio show in Seattle. Not only was Debbie kind enough to volunteer her time to work our booth but she also had me on her radio show. (listen here) Thanks again Debbie!  The stage was set and we were ready to collect shoes on behalf of the Seattle Union Gospel Mission.

Look for this sign at your next race

Every event I can’t help but want to collect as many shoes possible.  This event was no different. The first day at the expo started out pretty slow until 6:30 pm when I got a call from a donor asking if I could meet her curbside to unload some shoes. As I approached her tailgate I was shocked! She had collected 6 HUGE garbage bags of shoes on her own. After hauling them inside I was off to an event hoping to network with people who I thought might be able to further our cause. I met some incredible people and made some great friends who I think will help us down the road. Only time will tell and that’s for another post.

After two days of collecting at the expo it was race day. I always enjoy race day because there is something breathtaking about people donating their shoes while facing sheer exhaustion. Even though their body is in turmoil their spirit still wants to give more and that is remarkable to me.

Race donor expressing her joy for giving

Luckily the Seattle rain never made an appearance and we were able to collect shoes from a great number of runners. By days end we had 452 pairs for those in need on the streets of Seattle. After we finished for the day, the shelter did their daily pickup onsite and took the shoes. By Monday they would be on the feet of people who needed them. Little did I know the first pair to be handed out would be to a woman who was in desperate need of shoes.

Feet of woman needing shoes

I showed up at the shelter Monday morning to get some film footage for our site and to interview a few people on the street about what it means to have a pair of shoes. Even though it was the mens shelter, this woman appeared in hopes of getting in for food. Little did she know a pair of shoes is what she would also receive. This picture doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what her feet looked like. They were swollen and cracked beyond anything imaginable. I went to the basement of the shelter where all the donated items were stored and started tearing open bags of shoes until I found 3 pairs that I thought might fit her. Most times people have forgotten their size, either because they have been wearing the wrong size to just make do or they have not had the money to buy an adequate pair. Lucky for her, the first pair she tried, fit.

If the shoe fits, it's yours!

As I look back on our transaction I remember she had a mask on for allergy reasons or health reasons of some other kind and we never exchanged names. I guess it really wasn’t necessary. All I could see was her eyes and as I looked up from her foot as it slid into her new shoe I could tell from the lines around her eyes a smile was under her mask. “Thank you sir” was all that was said and we parted ways.

There are many signs we come across in our daily lives. Sometimes if we follow them we stay out of harms way and if we don’t, bad things happen. I’m not sure what signs those on the street might have seen and not followed and to be honest it’s not for me to say they should have. All I know is, the sign I’ve read says for us to love our neighbor. That’s definitely one I think if we all followed more often would change the world. After all, you can’t look at this smile and tell me different.

Man on the street expressing his joy of receiving

Shoeless in Seattle

Events, Rescue Missions, Seattle, Seattle

Shoeless in Seattle

1 Comment 22 June 2010

Seattle Union Gospel Mission

We are extremely excited to be heading to Seattle this week not only to be a part of another great Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon presented by Competitor Group but to also work with the Seattle Union Gospel Mission as the recipient of all the shoes we collect over three days of being in town.  The Mission is the only shelter in King County that offers 3 meals a day, 7 days a week and averages 1200 meals a day.  The statistics for King County are alarming:

Homelessness in King County…

  • Over 8,961 people are homeless on any given night in King County
  • Children under the age of 18 make up 33 percent of the shelter and transitional housing population
  • Over 21 percent of the homeless population have experienced domestic violence
  • 18 percent of people living in shelters and transitional programs in King County are employed
  • 48 percent of the shelter population has been homeless one year or longer
  • 30 percent of homeless people sleeping outside spend the night in their cars.
  • In Seattle, the cost of supportive housing was estimated at $26 per person per day, in contrast with $87.67 for a day in jail, $555 for mental hospitals and $2,184 for hospitals

It is obvious there is a need for helping those on the streets of Seattle and the surrounding areas.  We know from talking with our contacts at the shelter that shoes will get used. Everyone knows that Seattle is damp and wet place to live; let alone having to do it on the streets…bare foot.  Spring rain brings beautiful flowers but for those living on the street it means wet, sore and badly blistered feet.  Brian, one of the men who frequents the shelter for meals, was heard saying, “Our feet get really chewed up”.

Man on streets of Seattle without shoes

We have an incredible opportunity this week to really make a difference and work to provide 8900 people on the streets with moderately worn shoes. We will be collecting shoes at the Health and Fitness Expo taking place at Qwest Event Center Thursday June 24th 11am-7pm and Friday 25th 10am-7pm.  We ask that you wash your shoes prior to donating them if possible, but not required.  We will accept all moderately worn men, women and children’s shoes.

Join us in making sure that every person in our country has a pair of shoes.  While housing continues to be the main issue when it comes to homelessness, so is helping people get back on their feet.  In order to do so, we must work together to give them something to stand in.


Orange County Rescue Mission

Orange County, Rescue Missions

Orange County Rescue Mission

No Comments 23 April 2010

Est. 1963

The Orange County Rescue Mission in Orange County California was founded in 1963.  Give Your Sole is excited to have the opportunity to be working with the mission as the main recipient of all the shoes that will be collected at the OC Marathon taking place over the weekend of Friday April 30th-May 2nd, 2010.

The Rescue Mission has many wonderful services to offer those who come through their doors.  The Village of Hope, a 192-bed transitional housing program for homeless men, women and children, opened in March 2008 with the arrival of 30 men from the Rescue Mission’s shelter in Santa Ana. The Children’s Dream Center, a 6,000 square foot center located on the Village campus, was completed three months later in July and the Rescue Mission began admitting single homeless women with children and intact families.

The Village of Hope is at 90% capacity, with a total of 169 homeless individuals consisting of homeless single men, single women, single women with children, single men with children, and two parent families. The largest homeless sub-population on the Village of Hope campus is single women with children.

The Village of Hope also offers: Spiritual and Personal Development, Case Management and Counseling Services, Medical and Dental Care, Workforce Development and Computer Training Center, Food Service and Dining, Child Development Center, Transportation Services and Recreation.

Whether you live in California or are traveling from out of town for the marathon you can play a part in helping this Rescue Mission by donating your moderately worn athletic shoes to Give Your Sole.  See you at the race!

Rise of the Phoenix

Arizona, Events, Phoenix

Rise of the Phoenix

No Comments 26 January 2010

Race Day Morning
Race Day Morning

It didn’t take the runners 500 years to rise up and breathe life into charity at the P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona marathon and 1/2; they did it in three days. Give Your Sole received over 500 pairs of shoes throughout the weekend’s convention and racing events, which are already helping those less fortunate in the Phoenix area.

This was our first big event of 2010 and it didn’t disappoint. Our weekend started early Friday morning with a news segment on Sonoran Living, ABC – KNXV Phoenix local. Brett put his camera “shyness” aside and sent forth our message in crystal clear fashion. We were also able to gain the support of Miss Arizona, USA 2010 – Brittany Bell who happened to be in the studio audience that morning.

Tom with Miss Arizona showing her support
Tom with Miss Arizona showing her support

Off to the Health and Fitness Expo at the convention center where we were eager to meet and spend some time with Brenda Combs. Before I continue though, a great, big, huge THANK YOU needs to go out to all those who helped volunteer while in Phoenix. Without your support (Russ, Melinda, Jack, John, Jake, Kyle, Peggy, Steve and Helen) we would have never been able to do all that we did that weekend.

The Volunteers rocking the booth!
The Volunteers rocking the booth!

Imagine waking up one day to find yourself lying in an alley, not knowing how you got there, it’s hot – you’re confused, hungry and hurting. Looking around, all you see is broken glass, needles and sharp stones lining all paths leading you to more familiar grounds. You gather yourself to get back on your feet to walk to, well, walk to anywhere but there. It’s then you realize that if you’re going to take those necessary steps, you’re going to have to do so barefoot; someone has stolen your shoes. I’d like you to meet Brenda Combs.  One could learn a lifetime of lessons in spending sixty minutes with Brenda and her son Mycole as we did Friday afternoon, but it simply wasn’t enough time to capture her amazing story. More on that later…..

Convention bound – it was the first event of 2010 both Brett and I were able to attend and it was great to feed off each other’s energy and passion for purpose in Give Your Sole. We met some incredible people throughout the weekend. Some believed so deeply in what we were doing, they asked to wear a Give Your Sole t-shirt during their run of the marathon on Sunday.

Tom with Give Your Sole supporter Debbie
Tom with Give Your Sole supporter Debbie

Lunch with Team World Vision – Comrades in training, a heartfelt driven group of individuals whose compassion and cause goes beyond words.

These boys mean business when it comes to making a difference
These boys mean business when it comes to making a difference

Saturday morning we were able to meet with Brenda again and her husband Tony Carter through a retracing of steps where they were both homeless over ten years ago, from the 7th Avenue Bridge where hope was lost to the shoeless alley where hope was miraculously found.

Brenda and Tony
Brenda and Tony

It’s no wonder she is the ambassador of inspiration for Grand Canyon University, she has truly walked through many hardships and become a stronger individual because of these journeys.

While we’re on the subject of miracles, imagine if everyone that stopped by our expo booth on Friday, did so with a pledge to come back on Saturday with a few pairs of shoes to donate. Now imagine someone actually coming back with over thirty-five pairs. Thank you Robbie Sittman! A perfect lead into the marathon on Sunday, early morning – chill in the air, a grand setting for a “giving” day. Charity does not discriminate; neither does misfortune, homelessness, hope or guidance. This is what was shown to us throughout the weekend. Our gratitude goes out to all those who donated. After the race ended and over 500 shoes were gathered, it was time to call it a day. We were privileged to one more gift before leaving though, Brett noticed three big bags of runners clothes near a dumpster that were collected and left for trash. Certainly ten loads of wash would be worth the effort in picking them up to be donated with the collected shoes!

I met Nicole Pena, Shawn McCullam and Brenda at the Phoenix Rescue Mission on Tuesday to take part in giving the shoes to those in need. Though most of the recipients were a bit shy to the video camera, the images of gratitude they left with me will far outreach any words they might have spoken.

Nicole and Shawn from Phoenix Rescue Mission
Nicole and Shawn from Phoenix Rescue Mission

After all, isn’t integrity doing what’s right when no one is looking or more importantly when one needs no proof of what has been done.

Phoenix Rescue Mission

Phoenix, Rescue Missions

Phoenix Rescue Mission

4 Comments 05 January 2010

est. 1952

est. 1952

The Phoenix Rescue Mission was founded in 1952 by six businessmen from the Phoenix area. In the beginning, they ministered to migrant workers and vagrants. “Homelessness” was not yet a term that was associated with persons who had unfortunate circumstances.  Well, today “Homelessness” is a term and one that many people know but also fail to acknowledge.  The Phoenix Rescue Mission is working hard to change the way people think about such term. Give Your Sole is fortunate to be working with them as the recipients of all the shoes we collect at this years P.F. Changs Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and 1/2 taking place the weekend of January 15-17.

The Phoenix Rescue Mission has many programs. They range from addiction recovery, family outreach, homeless services and more.  For the month of December the shelter provided beds for 3,627 people, served 23,560 meals, handed out 4,824 food boxes, 6,350 bottles of water and 179 pairs of shoes.

From talking with my contact at the shelter, shoes are a major need that will get used.  This is where you get to make a difference! Whether you reside in the Phoenix area or happen to be traveling to the event I encourage you to bring your old shoes and come visit our booth at the expo or seek us out on race day near the finish line area and donate those shoes.  Not only will you have purged your closet of some clutter but in the process you will have replenished some hope to a person in need.

Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago

Chicago, Rescue Missions, video

Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Chicago

No Comments 17 December 2009

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Las Vegas, Rescue Missions

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

No Comments 29 November 2009

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Las Vegas Rescue Mission

Las Vegas is a lot like Hollywood; many people travel there to make it big only to end up on the streets.  Money surrounds and sustains both cities while those that were once dreamers now become survivors who find themselves without food, shelter or clothes.   The Las Vegas Rescue Mission and operations manager, Randal Salinas, are working hard to give relief and hope to those who come through their doors.

Randal Salinas / Operations Manager

Randal Salinas / Operations Manager

To give you an idea of what the mission is up against and what they are doing to make a difference here are some incredible statistics for the month of October.  Randal anticipates these numbers to increase as the winter months approach.

Meals Served in October : 26,846

Number of Beds for Shelter of Hope : 674

Number of Beds for Mens Dorm: 1,290

Number of Emergency Shelter Beds : 1,964

Number of Emergency Shelter Beds for Kids : 45

Randal and I spent about an hour together and it was obvious that his heart is committed to making a difference.  Once a contractor who built homes he now works on building lives and creating a foundation that is sure to withstand any element it encounters. We talked about the needs of their organization and the 3 basic needs are always in demand; food, shelter and clothes.  He made it clear to me that the shoes we collect will definitely be used and appreciated.  Many families find themselves having to decide the best way to spend what little money they have and with winter approaching, clothes are a main focus.  dsc_3672

Give Your Sole is grateful to team up with Randal and the Mission to be the recipients of all the shoes that will be donated at our upcoming event .  So wether you are a resident of Las Vegas or traveling to the city, make sure to bring your moderately worn shoes to us at the Kids Rock Las Vegas presented by McDonalds of Greater Las Vegas event on Saturday December 5th.

Help us provide some relief this winter for these people and donate your shoes.  Maybe, just maybe, it will distract them enough from their worry to allow them to dream again.


Rescue Missions, San Jose

Sacred Heart teams up with Give Your Sole

No Comments 22 September 2009

Sacred Hearts Community Service Center in San Jose, CA.

Sacred Heart Community Service Center in San Jose, CA.

The Sacred Heart Community Service mission is to change lives and impact poverty by providing essential services, offering tools for self-sufficiency, and ministering with dignity, compassion and respect. We engage the community and inspire volunteers to love, serve and share.

Give Your Sole hopes to help them achieve their mission by donating all the shoes we collect at the upcoming San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon October 2nd-4th to their Clothes Closet.  The Clothes Closet helps provide shoes, clothes and blankets to over 300 people in need that come through on a daily basis.  The great thing about it is, it’s all FREE to those that need it.

Sacred Heart Community Service Clothes Closet

Sacred Heart Community Service Clothes Closet

Northern California is a beautiful place to live and experience however to those in need who are struggling and don’t have a home or clothes it’s just another place of survival.  Winter is around the corner and it has been known to get pretty cold in this area. Be a part of our goal to help make sure those in need have shoes on their feet, hopefully eliminating one less thing for them to worry about.

We will be collecting shoes at the expo taking place at San Jose McEnery Convention Center located at 150 W. San Carlos Street. The Expo hours are Friday, October 2: 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturday, October 3: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  We will also be collecting shoes at the finish line right off your feet .  Those of you who donate the shoes you run in on RACE DAY ONLY will receive a free pair of Give Your Sole flip-flops (while supplies last) so you won’t go away barefoot.

For more information on the expo visit; #mce_temp_url#. For more information on Sacred Heart Community Service and how you can be a volunteer visit; #mce_temp_url#.

Rescue Missions

My visit with MorningStar Mission

No Comments 23 June 2009


Terri Micetich and myself (click picture to be directed to MorningStar Mission website)

 Today I visited the MorningStar Mission who will be the recipient of all the shoes we collect at the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon August 2nd.  Without this mission, many people would not have a place to escape the cold of Chicago. Not many people would have a sanctuary where they can keep their kids safe. Not many people would have the opportunity to get back on their feet.  Not many people would be able to have a nice meal.  In 2007 the mission served 135,327 meals.  I was told that since the economy has taken a turn for the worst the amount of meals served has gone up 50%!  You do the math.

Terri Micetich, Director of Development, at MorningStar Mission gave me a tour of the mission that tore at the heartstrings to say the least.  First of all, if there were not people like Terri and her mother, Marilyn Farmer, who I found out is the towns main caregiver for those in need, Joliet would be at a huge loss. They have committed their lives to making sure EVERYONE gets a fair shake.

Their “Jump On The Bus” program is one that deserves tremendous attention.  This program is determined to make sure that over 350 children have every school supply they need, everything from pencils to tennis shoes, as they head back to school.  Give Your Sole would like to ask those of you with children to  really help out and donate those shoes.  These kids are no different in the sense that they outgrow shoes incredibly fast.  The difference is, they don’t have the means to go out and buy new ones.  With your help, we can alleviate the worry and stress of their parents having to find them new shoes.

Today I had dinner in “MY” own house.  Today I went to bed in “MY” own bed.  Tomorrow I will wake up and make “MY” breakfast.  There are far too many people in this nation that cannot say the same, many of them in Joliet Illinois.  I encourage everyone who attends this years Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon to donate your shoes to Give Your Sole so we can get them to the men, women and children at MorningStar Mission who can really use them.

Thank you.

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