Sunday, April 14, 2013

Walk In Beauty - Spring 2013

by Cindy Cook and Ray Coleman
In the early hours of morning we left Salt Lake City for the Navajo Reservation.  It was time for the spring delivery of Walk In Beauty shoes.  Our trips typically find us starting out toward Mexican Hat, Utah.  We’ve grown accustomed to making our first delivery at Monument Valley Elementary, but this time things would be different.

At this time of year, the 14 schools we presently serve are all enjoying spring break and conducting standardized testing – but all at different times.  In addition, the majority have two-hour reading blocks during which time we are not allowed to take the students out of class.  Couple this with the miles we cover (nearly 2,000), and the logistics can get a bit complicated.  The way things worked out, we would begin deliveries at Sanders Elementary (southeast portion of the reservation) and work backwards toward Monument Valley (northwest portion of the reservation).  With this as the plan, we headed toward Gallup, NM and felt ourselves easing back into being on The Land.

Another difference in this trip was that Cindy’s great-nephew, Kade, was joining us.  He too was out on spring break.  Since he helps purchase and prepare the shoes, we felt it was a good time to take him on a delivery.

For those of you who have traveled to the reservation, you know the weather is always a subject of conversation and often unpredictable.
Storm clouds were building as we drove the dirt road to Black Mesa Elementary.  Expecting rain, we were surprised to be greeted with snow flurries when we arrived at the school.
By the time we left, the sun was shining brightly.
In Chinle, AZ we experienced a modest dust storm.

Two months can pass from the time a student’s foot is measured to the time they receive their new shoes.  Many of our coordinators tell us how anxious and excited the students are and how they continually ask when their new shoes will arrive.
Upon receiving her shoes, one young girl said sweetly, “Finally, they came.  I’ve been waiting.”

At each school we are warmly greeted by staff members.  At one school, a maintenance man said, “Good to see you again.  Thank you for what you are doing for our kids.”  In the midst of another delivery, a 2nd grade teacher came in to thank us.  She said her students were so happy to receive their shoes.
Of the 406 pair of shoes delivered, many went to older students – most of whom do not wish to be photographed.  These two girls didn’t mind smiling for the camera.
Girl:  These new shoes are so comfortable!  Boy:  Yeah, mine are too!

While receiving her new shoes, a 3rd grade girl asked if her younger brother and sister had gotten their shoes.  We recognized that a few of the students to whom we were delivering shared an unusual last name.  Our school coordinator told us the students were from a family of 6 children who lived with their single mother in a traditional Hogan with no running water.  The concern this young girl showed for her siblings touched our hearts.

Here are a few of the student’s reactions to receiving their new socks and shoes:
* Jumping up and down a 2nd grade boy said, “These feel really good!”
* Pointing to her old shoes a kindergarten girl said, “These are so tight for me.”
* “I like these new socks,” said a 4th grade boy.  “Me too,” replied his female classmate.
* After putting on his new shoes a 4th grade boy said, “My feet feel better.”
* Looking surprised and pleased a 2nd grade boy said, “These are actually new!”
* Out in the hall a 4th grade girl exclaimed to other students, “Look, I got new shoes!”
* “Can I wear my new socks?” asked a 2nd grade boy.  “They are so soft inside.”
Special thanks go to ANE volunteer, Deb Conover, for working patiently with us to create new foot measurers for the program.  Copies of these were delivered to each school during our visit.

We are blessed with generous donors who make it possible for us to continue this work.  Our deepest gratitude is extended to all those who have given of their resources to make Walk In Beauty a viable program.

Questions about Walk In Beauty?  E-mail us at:

To see additional photos from our trip, please click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment