Monday, December 01, 2008

Vermont Doctors Get Shoes For The Homeless

Winter is a bad time to walk around in worn-out shoes, especially for the homeless. That's why a group of medical professionals from Fletcher Allen Health Care at the University of Vermont got involved with Soles4Souls to hand out brand new shoes to those who need them the most.

The program focused on the Day Station at the Committee on Temporary Shelter in Burlington, VT. It's a place for the homeless to get out of the weather and sit down during the day.

This time, they sat down in front of a couple of foot doctors to get fitted for new shoes. The Redwing company donated 12,000 pairs nationwide to the cause. The homeless themselves will tell you, a new pair makes all the difference.

Bill Blood, a Burlington COTS client, said, "After jeopardizing myself this morning by slipping and sliding six times on my royal rump this morning, on the ice -- even with a cane -- Ahhh, I'm so glad I have something good now to give me some traction."

The COTS shoes for the homeless program is a nice fit for the Day Station. That's because COTS does more than just provide shelter. The agency tries to help the homeless help themselves.
The homeless tend to encounter mounting problems, of which doctors Jim Michelson and Mark Charlson are well aware -- including poor health.

Dr. Jim Michelson, a Fletcher Allen Health Care Orthopedic Surgeon, said, "I think if they do have more problems it's because they don't come to medical care, you know, they don't have the opportunity to take care of themselves. They don't have a place to sit down at night and take off their shoes and socks. They wear them for days on end, which is not healthy. But I think that's really the main issue. It's the health access issue," he said.

A decent pair of shoes is a basic start. Any obvious medical problems are also spotted. Shoes for the Homeless had about a hundred pairs to give away on this occasion. It's one step that could make the winter easier to bear for those who took advantage of it.

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