The Clarion

Shoes and socks for the homeless

Jessica Deegan, News Editor

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When getting ready for school or work, putting on shoes and socks is simply a routine. For homeless individuals, it isn’t that simple.

Recently, Madison College’s Student Nurses Association (SNA) collected men’s gently used shoes and socks to donate to the Madison Area Care for the Homeless OneHealth (MACH OneHealth), an organization that provides street medicine and foot care clinics for housing-insecure individuals.

The association put large bins around the campus in hopes to collect as many shoes and socks as possible. “Our goal is high, but there is always an element of chance when it comes to how successful you are going to be,” explained SNA advisor, Dr. Mara Eisch.

Although the entire SNA board was behind this event, it was nursing students, Samantha Walsh and Mikayla Goltz that really helped this event succeed. “As an advisor for SNA, I really want the students doing that leg work, and learning how to establish relationships within the community, and how to give back,” said Dr. Eisch.

Walsh, being the volunteer coordinator, was in charge of connecting with MACH OneHealth, to learn about volunteer opportunities for students and while doing so she discovered that they were in need of men’s shoes and socks.

“She [Walsh] does a really nice job of finding opportunities for SNA to be of service to the community, and has found a variety of different kinds of experiences,” said Dr. Eisch.

Goltz is SNA’s fundraising coordinator and assisted in making a plan for the drive, advertising it, and checking the bins around campus that held the donation items. “It’s those two who have really stepped into their leadership roles,” gleamed Dr. Eisch.

“A big part of nursing is health promotion, and we understand that it may be hard for the homeless to have access to clean shoes and socks. This is a serious issue, especially in the colder months. Our mission is to donate and hopefully have an impact on the availability of these items,” said Goltz.

Another opportunity lies ahead for SNA volunteers, as MACH OneHealth will be starting their foot care street clinic on March 17. The clinic will begin on State Street and move around the city to perform foot care wherever the homeless individuals are.

“Our hope is that we will be involved with them after they get the wrinkles straightened out, and see how this process is going to go. It would be a great opportunity to be able to connect on the street with the homeless,” said Dr. Eisch.

SNA is also developing a partnership with The Beacon, a relatively new day shelter that allows homeless individuals of Dane County to take a shower, wash their clothes, and use computers to apply for jobs.
SNA is reaching out to The Beacon regarding possible patient education, blood pressure and blood sugar screenings. Proudly, Dr. Eisch said, “Any kind of patient education that they may need to help manage their own health better. We want to be able to offer that to the homeless as they are getting themselves back on their feet.”

Even though SNA cannot treat the homeless individuals who are getting screened, they are able to point them in the right direction of assistance in the event that they did have an overly high blood pressure or sugar content.

Besides the screenings, SNA will also be looking at their lifestyle influences including whether or not they smoke, what they eat and what their stress levels are at. “I realize they do not have a lot of choices for their food, but within those choices, are they aware of which foods may be contributing to their high blood pressure and/or blood sugar and which ones aren’t,” said Dr. Eisch.

The shoes and socks drive, along with the collaboration with the MACH OneHealth, and The Beacon are not only helping homeless individuals get what they need, but it is also heightening the students’ knowledge on how to care for them.

“I think everyone has some personal assumptions about the homeless, but when they are nurses in the hospital and they have a homeless patient, their ability to interact with them will be much more enhanced because of this experience,” explained Dr. Eisch.

“I think that we as a community on campus, need to be aware that we have homeless individuals in our classrooms…and understand that population and what their needs are…we need to do what we can to help them.”

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Shoes and socks for the homeless