What does one do after 13 years of living on the streets and under bridges? Many would consider giving up and, in fact, this is precisely what Scott Sowle did as he contemplated suicide just days before finding shelter at a local homeless mission. Despite his temporary residence though, Sowle felt a nagging sense of discomfort as he knew the pain of not having footwear suitable to navigate Seattle’s cold, wet climate. While the mission who took him in relied upon community donations to supply clothing to its residents, a serious shortage of shoes troubled Sowle who quickly decided to take matters into his own hands and began collecting shoes for other homeless people who were struggling to survive in mission’s surrounding neighborhood.
His Next Move Was His Best Move
While so many would have used time off from the streets to plan their next moves towards permanent housing and a new life– and no one would blame them, Scott Sowle found it difficult to relax despite the kindness that was being extended to him. Grateful for the assistance, he felt a nagging sense of urgency for other women and men who were in his same position. With a heart to serve others, he didn’t wait until his troubles were behind him to begin helping his community. Instead, Sowle set up a street-corner collection effort with a simple box, fliers and a sign asking passerby to donate used shoes. His efforts were an instant hit with area residents who willingly offered their used footwear to Sowle’s cause. After cleaning and disinfecting these donations, he then set about distributing them directly to those who needed them the most.
The Birth of a New Charity
Today, life has turned around for Sowle who still continues to devote his time and energy toward reaching out to others. No longer living in the streets, he now operates his own charity, Redeeming Soles, which not only organizes the collection and distribution of old shoes to the homeless, but also helps provide medical treatment to those who suffer from conditions that affect the feet. While many would not blame him for concentrating on his own advancement after nearly a decade and a half of living on the streets and in poverty, Sowle finds joy in giving back after so many years of what he describes as being “a taker”.
A True Inspiration to All
Civic Duty salutes Scott Sowle for taking his unique understanding of an issue that so many homeless people struggle with and finding a simple, but effective, way to help. That he didn’t wait until he was in a better position to give, but began his mission while he was yet homeless, is an inspiration to all who would like to serve their communities, but don’t quite yet know where to begin. Hometown heroes sometimes come from the most unlikely of places and, as Sowle illustrates through his own life, out of the darkest circumstances some of the brightest champions emerge.
Medina, Sarah. “Redeeming Soles: Scott Sowle, Former Homeless Man, Provides Shoes To The Needy (VIDEO).” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Oct. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2012.