Gary Short recognizes the power of personal interaction, especially when it comes to acts of service. His organization offers free foot care and shoes to people in his community who are homeless and working in poverty.
“I just feel the one-on-one interaction with the people, providing something so necessary, that I receive so much from — that’s my ministry. That is reaching out to these people and yet receiving more than I give.”
Meet Gary: Foot washer
Gary Short: I think when Christ washed the feet of the disciples, that was so symbolic of service — of, in fact, lowering yourself to the lowest level possible, which is when the feet touch the ground. It’s certainly central to what we do, that we are serving people from the ground up.
Foot Care for the Souls gives free pedicures, first aid, and shoes to the homeless and working poor.
So, this is my 25th year of doing foot care for the homeless in greater Cincinnati.
[Speaking on the phone] Yeah, yeah. I’ll be right down. Yep.
So, the breakfast starts about 7:00 AM here. So, we come here about 6:30 and get set up for foot care. We sign up our clients in the dining hall.
So when they get a card in the dining hall, then that stays with them. They get in the lobby, they’re all looking for number one, two, and three to see who goes first. So, I don’t start numbering until five. (laughs) They’re still looking for one through four.
A lot of our clients are just on their feet all day. They’re shuffling from one location to another, whether it’s looking for the next meal or whatever shelter that they may need for that night. And it’s wet, it’s cold. And when the feet get wet, that’s when they get the most stress on them. One lady came in one time, and she had lost all the feeling in her foot. We referred her directly to the hospital, and she came back two or three weeks later on crutches, and she says, “You saved my foot. There was a situation that was going on that the doctor said if I had continued to ignore it, then I probably would have lost my foot.”
Speaker: How are you feeling now?
Client: Good. Yeah, I had a big corn there. It hurt bad, she fixed it.
Gary: Foot care and service, in general, is a blessing because just like shaking somebody’s hand, that’s a very personal thing. When you have someone’s feet in your lap, it doesn’t get much more personal than that.
[Speaking to a client] You’ll come back and see us? All right.
I just feel the one-on-one interaction with the people, providing something so necessary, that I receive so much from — that’s my ministry, that is reaching out to these people and yet receiving more than I give.