Little Steps Toward Hope
Stacy Bourgeois, Founder of Sole Loved, joins the pod from Sugar Land, Texas this week to tell her journey from humble garage setups to full-fledged fundraising for charity. Inspired by her love of children and her passion for helping individuals living in poverty, Sole Loved delivers new and gently used tennis shoes to kids in need. Talking points include nurturing hope in underserved communities, spreading self-esteem to kids across Texas, and expanding her mission beyond her community.
[00:00] Start of the episode – Little Steps Toward Hope
[00:22] Breaking down the mission of Sole Loved shoes
[05:03] From humble origins to serving whole communities
[20:32] Networking strategies as a local nonprofit
[27:03] Building self-esteem through footwear
[40:15] Your call to action to get involved at Sole Loved
[41:15] Walking towards a brighter future, one step at a time
Sole Loved’s mission and vision
Sole Loved’s stated mission is bringing hope to little feet, one pair of shoes at a time. What this allows them to do, Stacy explains, is serve thousands of children in local schools and beyond with a simple yet effective vision. All kids deserve shoes that fit and protect their feet, but Stacy has seen how underserved her Texas community really is. Within the past 5 years, Sole Loved has given out over 18,000 pairs of shoes— and they’re just getting started.
“[Kid’s] whole stature changes. You know, confidence. They put on the shoes. They’re dancing around. They’re jumping. They’re skipping. They’re excited. They have shoes that fit again.”
Strategies in nonprofit networking
Running a small nonprofit with big dreams can be incredibly difficult all on your own. Thankfully, Stacy has enlisted the help of several local organizations and leveraged a few partnerships to give Sole Loved access to a wider community. One of Sole Loved’s most beneficial partnerships is with social workers in local school systems. With their connections and understanding of the needs of their school communities, Sole Loved is able to establish long-standing relationships with local families and groups and continue to serve kids who need shoes desperately.
“That’s why we partner with social workers within the school system because they know their families best. They’re in the schools all the time, they know the families that don’t require social services or that are asking for lunches or that are asking for help with rent. So, they are able to really assess which families are truly in need of shoes that month.”
Building self-esteem through footwear
The impact of Sole Loved shoes on the lives of local children is more than just material— it’s psychological. Stacy is so grateful that she and her network volunteers have grown big enough to be able to personally hand out the shoes themselves, watching the excitement and joy on the faces of the children receiving each pair of shoes. Building up the community one pair at a time leaves a lasting positive impact on each family Sole Loved serves and each volunteer that gets a chance to change a child’s life.
“It’s such a different kind of volunteer opportunity. You’re truly getting to see firsthand and right away the impact because you see, like I said, the excitement on the kid’s face. And then, as adults, as moms, we noticed immediately the relief on the mom’s face”
Additional resources to check out: Visit the Sole Loved website, Instagram, Facebook and fundraise for Sole Loved with the 2024 Chevron Houston Marathon