This is an excerpt on foot care from ‘Being the Hands and Feet’ by Shane Klippenes, a contributor for Blackleaf Writing. For the full blog post, please click here.
When I made the left turn into the restaurant parking lot, the first thing I saw was a 5 year old girl dragging a garbage bag full of clothes. Close behind her was her younger brother with a similar bag and their mother pulling a beat up suitcase, with purpose, trying to get to the Rescue Mission “before it closed” for the night. After her husband took the car and abandoned them that day, the 3 of them gathered up all they had left of their worldly possessions, and were walking across town for help.
This story, in countless variations, is the real life experience of people around the country who seek help at missions, like the Great Falls Rescue Mission. The Mission, which has long provided food, clothing, and shelter as well as spiritual, personal and financial guidance to all comers, can now add Foot Care to their list of services.
Dr. Jim Clough with 30 years’ of experience in podiatry and expertise in surgical & non-surgical foot/ankle and wound care and his team, sponsored by Cluffy, L.L.C., offer Non-Surgical Foot Care to Great Falls Rescue Missions Volunteers and people enrolled in the Missions’ Discipleship Program.
For many of those seeking treatment through this fledgling program, their feet are their primary mode of transportation. According to Clough, “Minor foot problems that require simple, non-surgical care, if left untreated, can progress into significant issues that leave people unable to walk without pain, requiring surgical treatment and prolonged recovery times.” This type of disability and down time can cripple the job prospects of Mission residents and its alleviation is a significant benefit of the treatment and preventive injury care provided by Dr. Clough’s vision in action.
The Cluffy Foot Care (CFC) Team (consisting of Jim, 2 RN’s and 2 assistants) volunteers their time one Saturday each month to treat acute problems, provide preventive foot care, develop treatment plans for people with diabetes related wounds, and get people that need shoes into appropriate footwear. Patient care is first class, with the CFC team treating as many people as possible, while doing so with patience, dignity and excellence.
The reaction from patients and Mission staff has been overwhelmingly positive, with patients who are thrilled to have chronic problems addressed and treated for the first time. The Great Falls Rescue Mission has fully partnered with the CFC team, providing space for the mobile clinic and shoes from their Thrift Store (when available) to patients in need.
The CFC Team has blown past the theoretical and theological arguments that often derail the implementation of an embryonic ministry outreach project and has simply begun “doing the work” that makes a difference to those in need. As the success of the program grows and wrinkles are ironed out, Dr. Clough has statewide expansion of the ministry on his mind. “The need is real, the problems are treatable, the results are palpable, and the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus is in front of us.” While the logistics of statewide expansion are yet to be worked out, the mission of providing first class foot care to those in need moves forward in Great Falls, courtesy of the Great Falls Rescue Mission and the volunteers that comprise the CFC Team.