Hearts to Soles helps 170

STEUBENVILLE – Robert Snyder was greeted with a smile and a request to measure his feet Thursday, one of 170 local residents to participate as the Our Hearts to Your Soles program was introduced to the community.

Dr. Stephen Conti, a foot and ankle specialist now practicing at Trinity Medical Center West, brought his family program to the Urban Mission Ministries Thursday afternoon to provide eligible participants a medical check-up of their feet, a pair of Red Wing shoes, a pair of socks, some toiletries and a free dinner provided by Froehlich’s Classic Corner Restaurant and the Quinn A.M.E. Church.

“I came because I need new shoes. Anything is better than what I have now,” Snyder explained as he held up his shoes with holes in the heels.

“This is our first event in Steubenville. I started working at Trinity in August and thought I should bring this program here because this is the spark. At our Pittsburgh event we also offer flu shots. I wanted to hold the program here to see how it goes so we will know how to plan for next year,” Conti explained.

“My family started this program eight years ago and we are now offering the event at 41 sites in 40 different states. We plan on offering shoes to about 8,000 people this year with about 550 volunteers participating. We always start the day before Thanksgiving,” Conti said.

“This just gets better every year. This is actually the fun part for me. The shoes are provided to us by Red Wing, and there is no overhead. We plan all of this at our kitchen table. We started with a smaller version here but hope to grow it next year,” noted Conti.

“My son created the Our Hearts to Your Soles foundation when he was a high school student in Pittsburgh. It has become a family mission since then with help in our region from the Colaizzi Pedorthic Center and Hanger Orthopedics Group and countless volunteers,” said Conti.

He was joined Thursday by Dr. Jim Flynn, an orthopedic specialist at UPMC in Pittsburgh, and Chad Peterson, a physician assistant for Conti and Flynn.

According to the Rev. Ashley Steele, executive director of the Urban Mission, “we received a telephone call from Dr. Conti. He had heard about the Urban Mission and thought this would be a good site for the program if we were interested. And of course we were very interested and excited.

“Trinity made all of this happen today. And these new shoes are something people need at this time of the year. God always makes something work out, and it’s nice to watch God at work today,” stated Steele.

“We are also offering the participants a free meal tonight at the Quinn A.M.E. church next door. The dinner has been prepared by Froehlich’s Classic Corner Restaurant, and I have to go because they need more servers there,” Steele said as she hurried out the door.

(Gossett can be contacted at dgossett@heraldstaronline.com.)