The Bernadas Family from the Phillipines participating in the Soles4Souls micro-enterprise program – courtesy of Soles4Souls
Brian Granfors is the Creative Director of Soles4Souls, a not for profit global social enterprise committed to fighting poverty through the collection and distribution of shoes and clothing. With the organization for 4 years, Brian has seen much change and movement for the good. We spoke about Soles4Souls and its impact on our world …
MKG: How did Soles4Souls come to focus on footwear? What should we all know about the significance of shoes?
BRIAN: It started with a single shoe. After watching news coverage of the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and seeing an image of a single shoe wash ashore, a group of philanthropists and shoe company executives were moved to do something. They orchestrated the collection of over 250,000 pairs of shoes and delivered them to those most impacted. After Hurricane Katrina hit the very next year, they collected nearly one million pairs for relief efforts. After realizing the desperate need for adequate footwear all around the world, Soles4Souls was officially formed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2006.
In many developing nations walking is the primary mode of transportation. Every day millions of people are exposed to unsanitary conditions that lead to parasitic diseases such as hookworm and threadworm. These diseases may lead to sickness, even death. They also keep children out of school leaving them without an education and continuing the cycle of poverty. In the United States, 1 in 5 children live below the poverty line. When we can help provide a pair of shoes, we’re helping bridge the economic gap. For these families, a new pair of shoes provides dignity and hope.
MKG: Is disaster relief still a part of its mission?
BRIAN: Absolutely. Our biggest impact in recent years was after the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in late 2012. Acting as second-wave responders, Soles4Souls sent close to 200,000 pairs of BOBS from Skechers shoes to those affected areas hardest hit in the Philippines – the islands of Cebu, Leyte and Samar. We respond according to the product we currently have on hand. Most recently, thanks to a generous donation from Macy’s, we were able to deliver winter coats this past fall to those who lost so much during the wild-fires in Lake County, CA, in the summer of 2015. Two days before Christmas we distributed winter coats to those affected by the floods in South Carolina and just two weeks ago, we delivered coats to those who were victims of a tornado in Garland, TX.
MKG; What are the long-term goals of Soles4Souls and how has the organization developed in the last ten years?
BRIAN: Our long-term goal is to double our impact in the next three years as we continue our mission to fight extreme poverty around the globe. Continue reading