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Personal Stories

You are making an impact in the lives of survivors!

Your donation of 37 pairs of slippers means so much to survivors of interpersonal abuse coming to Coburn Place. You are helping them with a new beginning. They have a safe place to call home and peace knowing others care for them. For many, that's a new feeling.


A survivor shared through tears with their advocate, “Without Coburn Place, my family and I would still be with our abuser.” You're making a difference.


Most survivors come to us with nothing but what they can grab quickly as they are fleeing an unsafe living situation. Because of donations like yours, they walk into their own fully furnished apartment at Coburn Place with all the necessities — hygiene items, cleaning supplies, toys for their children, bus passes and more. This gives them time to get settled, feel secure, and start working with their advocates.

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You are giving survivors so much. You are contributing — not just to a comfortable, safe home — but to the first step in a journey to a new life. You can read our latest blog about our survivor-led approach to advocacy for some insight.


Thanks again, and please keep in touch. We’d love to continue sharing news and highlights with you and hear from you, too. Let us know why you support Coburn Place, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


With gratitude,

Erin Wuertz, Community Engagement Manager 

Coburn Place empowers victims of intimate partner violence to live as survivors.

"A little child shall lead them" Isaiah 11:6 by Jack Williams

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Several days ago Ruth and Jacob showed up on our front  porch with a plastic ziplock bag, which contained piggy bank money and a bag of shoes. You will also notice that Ruth & Jacob are holding a note which  indicates that they want their money and shoes to help others. It sounds like they have talked their parents into collecting shoes from our neighbor hood, one street at a time. The children and parents have formulated a plan to "attack the neighborhood" with flyers, emails, door-to-door communications, and CP brochures. They will also participate in the Hancock County shoe, food and personal hygiene giveaway on November 14th.

I'm Hannah, and I'm changing the world two feet at a time!
by Hannah Ashby

My name is Hannah Ashby and I will be a junior in high school this coming fall. I compete in many scholarship pageants and community service is a very important part of a titleholders life. Earlier this year I was crowned USA National Miss Hoosier State Team 2016. With this title, I wanted to reach out to as many people as possible by taking part in many community service projects. One of the organizations that fpund was the changing footprints organization. I decided to take up a collection at my school and church. Because of the generosity of those in my community, I was able to collect over 600 pairs of shoes, helping better the lives of those in need. I'm Hannah, and I'm changing the world to feed at a time!


What a beautiful story! It is the big hearts of people like Hannah that make it possible for

CHANGING FOOTPRINTS to distribute over 100,000 pair of shoes. Hannah and her mother drove 2 pick up trucks from Washington, Indiana delivering 606 pair of shoes!!!! Thank you Hannah, her mother Angie, and Nick Parsons!!

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Our Somerset, KY mission trip was not planned by us by Jack Williams

My wife and I had plans of traveling to Washington State with a church group to deliver 200 pair of Changing Footprints shoes. We were also helping to rehab a church and participate in VBS for 134 Orphans from the Elwha and Makah Nations Native American tribes. But destiny showed her hand.

Just as we started to leave West Chicago we received an emergency call that our 49 year old son had just suffered a massive heart attack. He was in guarded condition in the ICU, waiting for a systemic infection to be brought under control before a quadruple bypass could be performed.

While waiting in the hospital I had the pleasure of meeting the Hospital Chaplain & the Director of Hospital Ministries. Our conversations went as one might expect, always ending on the subject of poverty in Kentucky, Indiana and surrounding areas where jobs are difficult to find and life is difficult for many. During these discussions we talked about how Changing Footprints worked and that shoes are free of charge.

While in the hospital waiting rooms, cafeteria, hallways I couldn't help but notice that many adults and children did not have adequate shoes. Then I realized, Changing Footprints could help! I met with the Chaplin and the Director of Hospital Ministries and asked, "If I delivered shoes to the hospital could they ensure the shoes would find a pair of feet?" They both looked astonished. Because of my son's condition they knew I would be making additional trips back to Kentucky. They asked if Changing Footprints would like to participate in Somerset's "Back To School Extravaganza." They give away backpacks, pens, paper, notebooks, markers, rulers, erasers, very nice discount coupons, and provide information on available state and local informational assistance. Of course we accepted.

On August 6th my wife and I distributed 200 pairs of very nice “back to school” shoes. Within 50 minutes, 90% of the shoes had appreciative new owners. Changing Footprints has been invited to participate in the 2017 Somerset, KY "Back To School Extravaganza".

As an FYI, we didn’t forget about the Elwha and Makah Nations. They received their Changing Footprints shoes in 7 large boxes containing approximately 280 pairs. They were delivered via FedEx to Washington, courtesy of my neighbor Tim W.

The Sharing Place & Zion Lutheran Church- Out Reach Ministries
by Jack Williams

I feel compelled to pass on just one short story about the impact Changing Footprints has had on our clients at our food and clothing pantry called “The Sharing Place” in Indianapolis, IN. Several weeks ago I was assisting another volunteer by placing donated shoes on our shoe racks when a lady in her 30’s came up and asked how many pairs of shoes she could have. Our policy is/was 2 pairs of shoes and a pair of boots a year for children 18 years and younger. She smiled and turn toward her business of shoe selections.


A few minutes later she was sitting on the floor in front the shoe racks with 4 or 5 pairs of shoes in her arms CRYING! I asked if I could help; her reply was as follows…..”You don’t know how much this means to our family….I have 5 children at home, my husband is out of work due to an industrial hydraulic press accident to his hands …. We have almost no money left..….We will probably lose our house… The government and insurance company are not helping! ….Too much red tape. This place has been a God sent blessing. Thank You to all involved, you have made a difference in our families’ well-being. It is wonderful knowing there are people who still care”.

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FYI… After receiving the shoes and food she came back inside said her car would not start, she was out of gas and had no money. I believe a Good Samaritan {pantry volunteer} helped her with a few gallons of gasoline.


As a volunteer, I thank Changing Foot Prints for going that extra mile also being so willing to help facilitate additional shoe needs in our community.

It’s Not All About Shoes-Shoes Provide a New Outlook
by Joni Leisure Degner

I’m a teacher at Columbus East High School in Columbus, Indiana. Last June Columbus was devastated by a flood. While many of us watched coverage of the flood on the news, many of my students were trying to gather up possessions, pets, and memories and heading for higher ground. When the school year started, I had students living with friends, in hotels, and in FEMA trailers. For some families, a little construction and a little time helped them get right back on their feet, but that was not the case for all. One boy in my class came from a family who just could not seem to find their way after being devastated by the flood. His house had been destroyed, and his father had lost his job.  This student was coming to class every day wearing shorts, a t-shirt that had the sleeves cut off, and shoes that had gaping holes in the toes–not nearly enough clothing for Indiana’s fall and winter. He might have gone unnoticed by most but began receiving a good deal of attention when his surly attitude and disruptive behavior became a problem in most of his classes. He was becoming a familiar fixture in the administration office.


A few teachers got together and decided to do what they could for this student. One teacher was able to give money. Another was able to give clothing that had belonged to her teenage son. His counselor made sure he had a backpack and supplies for school. There was one problem. His parents could not afford to buy him the shoes he needed-size 15 1/2, and no one else seemed to be able to locate shoes in this size either. When I heard about this, I was so excited to say that I knew exactly where he could get shoes in that size. I called my mom, founder of Changing Footprints, and told her this kid’s story, and the next day, she gave me two practically brand new pairs of Nike tennis shoes for him to try on. The University of Illinois basketball team donates shoes each year to Changing Footprints, so coming up with a size 15 1/2 was no problem. My intention was for him to be unaware of where they came from, but one day he appeared at my classroom and stood outside my door. When I stepped out, he said, “You did this?” and nodded to his shoes. I smiled and told him I had a line on shoes when they were needed. HE smiled at me and said ‘thank you,” still in disbelief that he received such a kindness from someone who had sent him to the hallway, detention, and the office. This was the first time I had seen him smile. He turned to start down the hall, then turned back and said “I’m gonna do better.” I smiled and nodded and felt very confident that he indeed would do better.


Each day I see those shoes walk in and out of my classroom, and each day I see a life that has been changed by something as simple as a pair of shoes.

Heart & Sole

On February 17 (at Food Finders Fresh Market) and February 24 (at LTHC Homeless Services), Heart & Sole gave out tennis shoes.  Between the two events, we gave away 243 pairs of tennis shoes to grateful guests.


Please know that I am aware that I couldn't have accomplished this (and our earlier giveaways) without the support of Changing Footprints.  Please express my extreme gratitude to all of your members.  It is my hope that this connection helps get footwear to those in need for years to come

Grandpa’s Shoes

A woman came to us at the Columbus Race with two large boxes of shoes. She was an elderly woman and we unloaded the boxes from her car. We thanked her profusely, but she seemed intent on staying and talking to us, telling us how nice the shoes were and how clean they were. Then she went a little further and told us that her husband had passed away about six months ago and his things were still in their closet. She saw our article in the paper and decided that this was the time. She called her young grandson and had him bring all the shoes downstairs, get out the polish and help her clean and polish every pair before boxing them up. She felt sure her husband would have been very proud of them for doing that and I’m quite sure he was.

Finding Peace

At the Indy 500 Mini Marathon, a woman asked specifically to speak with me. I put down the shoes I was sorting and went to the table to meet the woman. She was a well-dressed, middle-aged woman carrying a large tote bag in each hand. She said, “My 17-yr-old daughter was killed by a drunk driver a year ago, and I have not been able to move anything in her room since then. But when I saw the article in the paper about what you are doing, I knew Lauren would want me to give her shoes to you”  I took the tote bags and set them down; the woman and I embraced, and both of us cried. I thanked her and she thanked me, and then she turned around and blended into the crowd of thousands. I still have one of those tote bags and I’ll never forget her. I felt so blessed to think that I may have had some little tiny piece in this woman’s healing process and her search for peace.

Little Ones Around the Corner

A little 10-yr-old Girl Scout from Houston Texas saw us at the Indy 500 Mini Marathon and when she got home, she looked at our website and saw all the pictures of the children. She starting collecting shoes all by herself and accumulated 50 pairs. She emailed me and asked me how to get the shoes to me. I told her that there are people everywhere in the world that need our help, even in Texas. I contacted a children’s crisis center less than a mile from her home that she and her parents did not know existed. The director explained that when the children came to them, they usually only had a blanket wrapped around them. He said he would love to have the shoes and agreed to meet the little girl and her parents and make them feel the gratitude and blessing of their humanitarian gift.

Raising Humanitarians

A family from Danville Illinois was at the Indy 500 Mini Marathon in 2006; the parents were runners in the event. When they returned home, the daughters looked up our website and wanted to do something for us. They were having a combined birthday party for the two daughters and invited lots of people. These wonderful girls asked all of their guests not to bring presents – but to bring new or gently used shoes to donate!  They sent an email to ask how to get the shoes to me and again, I pointed out that there are people right near them that need the shoes. I located a homeless shelter not far from them and they were really excited to take them over to them. I thanked them, they thanked me, and the shelter thanked us all.

Help Around the World

I received an email from the cousin of a young woman in Iraq who had just arrived as a replacement at a medical clinic. While the clinics are there to treat American troops, Iraqi citizens, many of them children, are all too often caught in the crossfire or roadside bombings and are brought to the clinic for care. Because clothing usually has to be cut off the injured, the clinic tries to keep a supply of clothing and shoes to replace them, but the previous unit did not replenish the stock and they were now out of these items. It was going to take the government six to eight weeks to replace these supplies. She was so distressed by this and her cousin was hoping that we  could help out.  The email was forwarded to contacts who arranged for a large shipment of children’s and infants’ clothing. Changing Footprints shipped approximately 200 pairs of children’s and infants’ shoes.  Anna emailed her thanks and said that a unit had stopped there on their way to a Baghdad clinic and had shared some supplies. We all felt so good about responding to military personnel who are trying to help make a difference in the lives of these people suffering such violence and turmoil in their homeland.  

A Living Memorial

Our first year at the Indy 500, we challenged passers-by to give us the shoes off their feet – to become our “barefoot soles.”  We took their pictures giving us their shoes and put them on the internet. It was great fun watching them walk away in their socks.  Friends teased each other and razzed each other to do it; it was great fun. One young man was walking by, and I challenged him to give me the shoes off his feet. He replied,  “No, I didn’t think so.”  I assured him that they would end up on the feet of someone who really needed them, and then we began to explain our mission and our goals. He stared up at the ceiling silently and it was obvious that something was going on with him.  Finally, he looked back down, set his things down on the floor, and looked up at me. Then he explained. It seems that his roommate (Matt) who had gone on missionary trips to Haiti two years in a row wanted him to go with him the following year and he agreed. Two months after Matt’s return that year from Haiti, he was diagnosed with advanced leukemia.  In spite of aggressive treatment, his health continued to decline. When it was time for the Haiti trip, Matt was extremely weak, but the young man had promised his friend he would go, and they did make that trip together. He told me that many of the people over there remembered Matt from his previous trips and they were distressed to see him so ill. But Matt couldn’t get the huge grin off his face. Just before boarding the bus to leave to come home, Matt took off his shoes and handed them to one of the local men. When the man resisted, Matt laughingly pushed him back and hugged the man when he tried to refuse.  Then he boarded the bus with his friend.  He was buried three weeks later.  His friend now stood here in front of me and said, “There’s nothing else for me to do.” He bent over and untied his shoes and pulled them off, handed them to me, picked up his sacks and walked away toward the exit. From the back I saw his hand go up to his face and brush across his cheek, and then I realized that I was standing there hugging his shoes to my chest with tears rolling down my face. Neither of us had any idea what that chance encounter would hold for us that day, but because of the higher power that leads us, I know that wasn’t a “chance” encounter.

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