“It doesn’t matter why someone doesn’t have shoes, if they need shoes, they need shoes.” Brad Jackson
Simple things aren’t that simple. They bring comfort and meaning to our lives and without them, life would be unbearable. Our guest today, Brad Jackson, dedicates his time to make the lives of people around his community easier by providing shoes to those who need them the most.
Brad was born in Dayton, Ohio, and grew up in Muncie, Indiana, where Ball State University is located, and from which he received his teaching degrees. Him and his wife are residents of Fishers, Indiana. Brad taught junior high biology and U.S. history for 43 years, and retired 4 years ago. Before that final school year, he had been looking for a volunteer opportunity that had the positive aspects of teaching and more. It needed to be a service-type non-profit in which he could see results of his efforts.
Brad got introduced to Changing Footprints by his long-time friend whom they worked together in one of the facilities of that organization. The mission of the organization is to put shoes of the feet of those who need them. In his spare time, Brad leads nature walks, especially for special-needs students, help rehabilitate old cemeteries, raise funds for Camp Tecumseh and Right Sharing of World Resources which helps women in Sierra Leone, Kenya, and India establish small businesses.
Brad also guest speaks in Spanish classes about his trips to Guatemala, and, with his wife Naomi, and Tom, his friend and excellent pianist, and sometimes special guests, perform music programs at retirement homes, featuring songs from the early 1900s through the 1950s. Brad’s retirement has turned out to be busier than he had envisioned, but truly exciting to him.
In today’s episode, Brad will talk about the work he and his colleagues are doing at Changing Footprints that touches their community in a positive way.
- A few years before I retired I talked to a person at church who worked for Changing Footprints and a month after retirement I went to work as a volunteer. [3:15]
- Our statement that we use is that we are changing the world two feet at a time and our logo is a bare foot print with a shoe print on top. [4:18]
- The theme in how we’re using shoes is that it doesn’t matter why somebody doesn’t have shoes, the idea is they need them to carry on life functions. [4:36]
- It started in 2005 after a reporter did a story about children in Afghanistan escaping the war and injuring their feet because most had no shoes on. [4:56]
- A couple of people that worked at Emerson industries in Indianapolis watched the report and decided to start collecting some shoes to send there. [5:34]
- They collected a few 100 shoes and sent them to Afghanistan and later realized that there were people locally who needed shoes and so they kept on collecting [5:49]
- The number of pairs collected grew over the years and now we’re feeling pretty good about the numbers. [6:26]
- It’s not a contest about numbers but they indicate how we’re doing and how we’re growing. [7:32]
- We just passed the 400,000 pair Mark from when they started in 2005 and the goal is by the end of 2022 to do half a million pairs. [7:42]
- We concentrate on agencies coming to us to request shoes for their clients and we are currently working with about 90 different agencies. [9:07]
- We get shoes through shoe drives and so part of my job is to go out to the schools in my county and initiate the drive [9:45]
- I work with schools that have community service requirements for their students make use of this opportunity and now we have 21 schools in my school district which makes the numbers incredible. [10:20]
- The really cool thing about kids coming to our facility to sort shoes, is that they get to see the second step in the process. [13:49]
- The process entails collection, sorting and pairing, inspection, labelling, grouping, boxing and stacking awaiting orders. [14:07]
- Commercial break. [17:24]
- Sometimes we give shoes to men and women who are being released from prison and are going into the construction industry. [20:04]
- When some shoes come in and they’re not in very good shape, we take the reusable parts such as laces and inner soles and give the remaining shoe parts to Nike Corporation for recycling. [20:28]
- We also have resource officers from the Metropolitan Police Department of Indianapolis who get some shoes to give out to homeless people that they come across. [23:10]
- We have trouble sometimes placing our dress shoes both men’s and women’s but we were given an idea by some teachers, and we started giving them out for free to schools to use them for their concert [23:42]
- We do look for financial contributions because we have two places that pay rent and also buy items that we use in in our processes. [27:41]
- We would love to see some other locations start their own organizations like ours because it is not that hard to get started. [29:02]
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