Then, a volunteer takes them "shopping" to choose their shoe. Chairs are available for them to sit down, put on their shoes to check for fit and comfort, all while the volunteer is there to assist them.
Telfian says that the most powerful aspect of the program is the connection that it creates between people. “Our guests often feel invisible, unloved and unwanted,” she says. “We want people to come in and feel totally cared for and to be comfortable and happy.”
Telfian’s goal is to take care of the entire city and give away all the shoes they receive.
“The more shoes we have, the more we can grow and give away,” she says.
Shood is steadily finding more programs to partner with. Last year they started working with a men’s drug recovery program in Richmond called The Healing Place. A group of men in recovery there run the Monument 10K, and Shood provides participants with the right shoes for the event, as well as socks and foot care bags. Before Shood, many of the runners were wearing shoes that were ill-fitting or too worn out.
They also partner with teams at John Marshall High School, where 96 percent of students are considered economically disadvantaged, and many of the students have inadequate running shoes. Their cross country coach contacted Shood to arrange a fit experience. Shood delivered for the 25 young runners so that they had 200 pairs of good shoes to choose from.
“It was such a special moment when we went to their high school and did that,” says Telfian. A month later, she received a call from the same coach to see if she could help with their needs for indoor track. Shood came through with running shoes, track spikes and a pair of throwing shoes for the athletes.
After that, four of the athletes from John Marshall High School qualified for their state meet. They got second place at the indoor state championships. Telfian says, “It feels like we’re part of that.”
By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.