Why did Kenton Lee create a shoe that adjusts to 5 different sizes? BECAUSE during a volunteer trip to Kenya, he took a walk with a little girl in a white dress and when he noticed how small her shoes were, he was appalled yet inspired to solve her problem. Kenton knew that this was not only the little girl's problem, but the problem of over 300 million other children worldwide. Over 2 billion people suffer from the effects of soil-transmitted diseases and parasites. Such diseases thrive mainly in areas with warm and moist climates and where sanitation and hygiene are poor. Sounds a lot like Kenya, Haiti, and many other impoverished countries, doesn't it?
"Why not just donate a bunch of shoes?" you may ask. Well, to "just donate a bunch of shoes" would ultimately be a temporary solution. Think about it! Although many may be malnourished, kids still sprout like beanstalks no matter what country they live in! Children can't fit in the same pair of shoes for very long. Do you remember getting a new pair of shoes each year for school because the ones from last year didn't fit you anymore? Don't get us wrong, if you have the chance to donate shoes YOU ABSOLUTELY SHOULD! But Kenton knew that children in these countries didn't have the convenience of driving to the nearest Payless or Famous Footwear to pick out a new pair of kicks each year and he wanted to create a long term solution to this problem.
Once back home, Kenton got down to business. He partnered with some of his best buds and in 2009 founded his non-profit organization, Because International! Their first project? To create a shoe that could adjust and expand in size to ultimately help protect people from disease for years to come. And voila!!! The Shoe That Grows was born!
Kenton Lee based Because International in his home town of Nampa, Idaho.
Did you guys know that Flourish Collective Inc. is ALSO based in Idaho?
We are in Boise which is about a 20 minute drive to Nampa!
So much love is flowing out of Idaho and we are so proud!
But all that love isn't just in Idaho. The Shoe That Grows has traveled all over the world! Just look at all the souls that have received these soles!
THAT IS A LOT OF UN-SQUISHED TOES!
During our latest mission in January 2017, we got to put our mark on the map as Flourish Collective Inc. distributed 50 pairs of The Shoe That Grows. This was all made possible by Eric Fredriksen from Fredriksen Insurance. Mr. Fredriksen purchased an entire dufflebag of the shoes and donated them to Flourish to pass out at our clinics. We helped the children squeeze out of their old shoes (if they had any at all) and slip into these sustainable sandals! Huge 'thank you' to YOU, Mr. Fredriksen!!!
If Mr. Fredriksen has inspired you to help us take more shoes on our next mission, you have a few possibilities! The Shoe That Grows has partner donation levels! Click HERE to check 'em out! Which level will you reach? Friend? Teammate? CHAMPION??
Because International is driven by practical compassion! They like to "keep things simple by focusing on practical aid for the everyday, regular life stuff that people experience in their normal lives." If you're ready to board the practical compassion train, they make it super easy to hop on as there are many ways to get involved! To see past and upcoming projects with Because International, click HERE! If you want to volunteer with Kenton and his crew, you can click HERE! Want to send in a donation?? Click HERE! If you want a pair for yourself you can click HERE! If you buy one pair, TWO are donated to people in need! Keep exploring through their site and you will find yourself swarmed with positivity, compassion, hope and inspiration! We would like to thank Kenton and his team for their dedication and passion for such a great cause. Because International has become a huge inspiration for us here at Flourish and we are excited to share our experience with your shoes!
Everybody meet the lovely Rachel Thomas! Rachel is one cool momma, let me tell ya! Not only is she a wife (to another member of ours, Justin, who y'all will meet someday) and a mother of two beautiful babies, she is ALSO an emergency room doctor that somehow managed to set aside ten days of her busy life to dedicate her abilities to serve the people of Haiti. Can you say SUPER WOMAN?! Well we sure can! If you thought she couldn't possibly do any more... SURPRISE!!! Rachel also finds time to do crossfit and through her local gym here in Boise, she met the co-founder of Flourish Collective Inc., Jamie Hubbs! Rachel says she has always wanted to get involved with international medicine and was easily sold when Jamie presented the Haiti mission.
Its really no surprise that the Haitian people are often the favorite part of our missions. Per usual, the Haitian people are so thankful that we come and regardless of their struggles, Rachel describes them as "rich in spirit". We agree, Rach! "They all thanked us for our time and for caring about them. We saw so many very sad cases, but the people of Haiti always had hope and were always smiling. We could learn a lot in finding happiness not in things, but in each other, and living in the moment, and being thankful for the small things in life. These patients may not have been able to pay for medical care, but I felt they paid me in love and gratitude and renewed my heart for medicine."
Since her mission, Rachel says she has been feeling #BLESSED! "Haiti showed me that while I am fallible, God is infallible and He chose this path for me. He is able to use my skills and training to help others, what is more of a blessing than that?!"
Rachel is a kind and compassionate woman who as a wife, mother, and doctor, has devoted her life to helping people. Since her mission, she has developed personal goals for herself here in the states as well as ideas that she would like to see implemented in Haiti in the years to come. Rachel is hoping to build a relationship with the hospital in Haiti to help provide further/long term care, help provide health education to the villages on water safety, diet, wound care and sexual health. We are honored to have such an ambitious innovator as a member of the Flourish Collective Inc. board!
***Photos in member feature by Erlebnisse Photography***