The winner of the 2015 Strive Award is Walk in Our Shoes (WiOS), a not-for-profit organization that provides free foot care and footwear to homeless people in Halifax.
The award was presented during the awards luncheon at Doctors Nova Scotia’s 2015 annual conference in Membertou, N.S.
Working in conjunction with the weekly community supper at St. Andrew’s Church, WiOS distributes hundreds of pairs of socks and shoes each month, as well as providing foot care and screening for diabetes and hypertension – common health issues in the homeless that also contribute to foot disease. Ongoing health promotion initiatives include vaccination programs, education about alcohol consumption and promoting good nutrition.
“Winning the Strive award will allow our organization to transition into the next phase of our strategic plan and accomplish our true potential,” said Dr. Colin Van Zoost, the president of WiOS.
Walk in Our Shoes began about 15 years ago; in its early days, interest ebbed and flowed.
“When I took over 10 years ago it had dwindled down to an old box of shoes in a dark hallway,” said Dr. Van Zoost. Since then, the organization has grown slowly but steadily; it’s now an incorporated not-for-profit society with more than 20 volunteers, some of whom are former clients. Much of its work is made possible by donations.
Support for the clinic has increased over time, but it’s not always easy.
“Many times when we are out of resources such as socks, creams and nail clippers, I end up supporting the clinic personally,” says Dr. Van Zoost. The grant will change that.
“The award will allow us to replenish our supplies when donations run scarce,” said Dr. Van Zoost. It also means that WiOS can expand its reach beyond St. Andrew’s.
“With the support of the Strive Award we plan on developing a mobile unit that will go the other shelters and soup kitchens to provide foot care for people who cannot make it to Sunday Suppers.”
Each year, the Strive Award is presented to a Nova Scotia community group making innovative and strategic action to support and promote health. The award is accompanied by a $10,000 grant for the winning organization to use to bolster its community health promotion activities.
For more information, visit www.doctorsNS.com