By Wendy Adamson
In a world where all we see on the news is kids getting high or even shot, I wish people could see what I see, when I look at my son, Rikki, and all his friends.
I suppose it started back in 1991 when I left my husband of 20 years and had nowhere to go. Ruth King, the director of CLARE Foundation interviewed me and I was able to get into one of their women and children houses.
At the time, I didn’t have a job and for that matter, barely had any skills at all. My oldest son was gone, so it was just Rikki, who had just turned nine.
After I paid my rent and bought food each month, I barely had any money left to buy him the clothes he needed for school. In fact, his shoes were falling apart, with holes worn clear through to the soles. One day he came home from school, his feet soaking wet because it rained. I felt like the biggest looser mom.
Geez, you can’t even get your son a pair of decent shoes, I thought to myself.
Shortly after that, at the house meetings, Becky, a woman, with long curly hair came to talk. She was an alumni of CLARE and when she was hitting her bottom, she went through the shelter with her son too. She had an inspiring story of how she found a job, fell in love and was still sober after ten years.
Once the meeting was over I was talking to Becky, when suddenly Rikki ran up to me with one of his shoes in his hand holding it up in the air.
“Mom, the hole has gotten worse,” He said, a deep crease between his brow.
“Okay Rikki, lets talk about it later,” I said, the acidic taste of shame burning at the back of my throat.
“You need shoes?” Becky asked. “I can get him some.”
Rikki looked at me wide eyed waiting for my reply.
“Ah, you don’t have to do that,” I said, suddenly feeling shy.
“No really, I want to,” She insisted. “I think there is a sale going on at Vans right now.”
“Oh mom, I love Vans,” Rikki said, jumping up and down.
“Oh, okay,” I said. “If you’re really sure?’
We piled into Becky’s car and she took us to buy him two pairs of brand new Vans.
Although Becky has passed away, her kindness still lives on.
Rikki, is 31 now and grew up to be quite the sneaker head. In fact, when I go over to visit him, one wall is covered, from floor to ceiling with boxes of Nikes, some of them he claims he hardly wears.
However, a couple months ago, Rikki was struggling and feeling a little blue. So when I told him to pray for guidance, he did exactly that. The answer that came to him surprised, even me. Rikki said he decided to give his shoes away to the people who needed them more.
So he started to go up and down the streets, looking for homeless men who might need a pair of shoes.
With his large Instagram and Facebook following many of his friends joined Rikki’s “Hav A Sole” and it soon caught on fire. The challenge he made was clean out your closet for any slightly worn shoes that you’ll never miss.
Donations came pouring in from all over and Rikki could barely keep up. Soon, he was recruiting his friends to help give away shoes to the homeless.
Needless to say, I’m a very proud mother and if Becky were still here, I would thank her for showing my son just how easy service can be done.
In a time when the images on the news are so bleak, people should see there is actually kindness happening in the streets.
For more information on how you can help, email HavaSole@gmail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/HavaSole. There is also a crowd funding campaign for the concept as well, visit http://www.gofundme.com/bww6bw.