Today we’d like to introduce you to Stacy Bourgeois.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Stacy. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Sole Loved was unofficially started several years ago, from the comfort of my own garage. In 2013, we began collecting gently used shoes from friends and neighbors to take to our homeless friends in downtown Houston. Early on, we noticed many of them wearing shoes with holes in them, some with soles that were completely torn off, others sporting worn out flip-flops, and a few wearing nothing but socks. I couldn’t believe it. On the streets of Houston? It got me thinking and wondering what I could do to help. So, I began collecting shoes.
On one of our outings, as we were packing up to head home, I noticed a young woman walking toward us. She was barefoot, carrying only a small backpack. When I asked her about shoes and what size she might wear, she looked down in embarrassment… and replied “big”. Well, it didn’t take long to figure out that we might be a match!! I have huge feet, and was always teased about it when I was younger! That day, it was an asset. I quickly stepped out of my brand new running shoes and handed them to her. She initially refused and began to cry. I did too. It was honestly the most emotional moment and one that I will never forget. I vowed from that moment on, that we would do our very best to make sure that anyone on the streets that needed shoes, would have a pair!! We kept our promise.
Month after month, I would reach out to our neighbors, friends, and family members through social media, asking for shoes. They delivered. For years, I’ve been known in our neighborhood as the shoe lady. It’s funny to think about, but I’ll take it. Day after day, I would come home from work to find bags of shoes on the porch- lots of bags. And not just little bags, but garbage bags FULL of shoes. It was incredible. In 2016, we decided to make our mission official, putting a name to our face! It was the beginning of Sole Loved. Since 2016, we have delivered well over 3,000 pair of brand new and gently used shoes to local Title 1 schools, Head Start Programs in forgotten neighborhoods, schools affected by Hurricane Harvey, foster families, local shelters and of course… the homeless. The need is still so great and we absolutely couldn’t do what we do without the amazing generosity and continued support from those in our community. It continues to be an outpouring of love and faith!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not been a smooth or easy road. We have had many hiccups along the way, and times when I questioned my decision to begin a non-profit. I’m a wife, mother of 3 and run two other businesses with my amazing husband, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for shoes. The hours are long and undeniably stressful at times, but to see the smiles… to know that we have delivered so much more than just a pair of shoes to those receiving them makes every second worth it. We don’t just deliver shoes. We bring hope. The joy and absolute awe we see in the face of a child, the squeal of delight as they hold their new shoes… is everything. When I get overwhelmed by the thought of so many being in need, I just remember the faces of those we’ve helped. Knowing that we’ve brought joy to just 1 person, makes it all worth while. We do it for the love.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sole Loved – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Sole Loved is a local shoe charity focused on bringing hope to those less fortunate, by simply giving them a new pair of shoes. We are a community-based 501c3, motivated by a deep passion for helping others. Our mission is simple -to bring hope to those in need, one step at a time. We are most proud of the amazing support and continued community involvement from friends, family members, neighbors, church members, and local schools and businesses. It’s been amazing to see people in the community come together to support our mission of hope. Sole Loved is a true non-profit and relies 100% on the generosity of others through donations and local grants. We are not an International shoe charity, but one focused on those here at home, that continue to need our help.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We have lots of big things happening!! We are currently working with a few Title 1 schools to provide approximately 500 pair of brand new shoes to some of their most at-risk children. It’s a big assignment, but one that we are so very proud to be involved in. We receive calls from school nurses and social workers almost daily, asking for help. The need is real and seems to be growing all the time. In addition, we will be providing new shoes to approximately 1,200 low-income families at the LCISD Common Threads Back to School Event. This is the highlight of our summer and something we truly look forward to every year!!
- Website: soleloved.org
- Phone: 281-844-7735
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sole_loved
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/solelovedshoes
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Soleloved
Stacy Bourgeois, Founder of Sole Loved, Mindy Park, Linsey Lopez