Deaconess Nurse Ministry Foot Care Clinic Becomes Moment of Healing for Clients

The foot clinic brought loving care to its clients. /Deaconess Nurse Ministry photos.

A foot care clinic at the Trinity Episcopal food pantry in St. Louis provided a much-needed ministry for people experiences homelessness. The clients not only received expert foot care, but also loving care and a spiritual refresh, thanks to nurses from Deaconess Nurse Ministry (DNM), including the Rev. Donna Smith-Pupillo, RN, BSN, DNM’s executive director. Smith-Pupillo wrote these reflections on the clinic:

On May 11, a foot care clinic was held at Trinity Episcopal food pantry in St. Louis. Deaconess Nurse Ministry participated, along with two other Episcopal churches and “The T” (Dr. Punch and her crew). “The T” is a 501c3 nonprofit community of health committed to reducing the impact of trauma in the St. Louis region through education, service, and connection.

The idea of the foot care was to provide a space where those who are homeless could receive the loving touch of care to their feet. Many who came were in great need of nail trimming and lotion application for dry skin. As a team, we worked to provide the loving care that each person needed.

As I worked with the folks, I was reminded that the feet are often one of the last places that anyone touches. However, that day, each person came seeking to have their feet touched. Willingly, each person took off their shoes, had their feet soaked, nails trimmed and feet massaged with lotion by caring hands that had gathered to do the work.

But more than the loving touch care that was provided, there were the listening caring hearts that paid attention to stories being told. Stories about how much walking those feet experienced, living in the city, living in Forest Park. Tales about how working for American/TWA Airlines meant seeing the world as a younger adult. Tearful expressions of loss of those who had died in the past two years and were profoundly missed. Life stories poured out as the healing balm of lotion was applied.

I realized as I was listening to these precious stories of life, and massaging feet with care, the person relaxed. I could visibly see eyes close and deep breaths being taken. Often the person would say, “That feels so good and I have never had anyone give me a foot rub.” I realized that listening and touch offered a moment of healing care.

Each client received a new pair of socks.

When I finished the foot massage, I placed new socks on the person. It was as if, at that moment, they experienced a newness. They walked a little taller and straighter than when they first came in. New shoes were given, and they left with a spring in their step, at least for a brief moment.

As I was participating that day, I was reminded of Mary who washed Jesus’ feet. It was a loving act of grace. One of the women who came for foot care said, “I remember the story of Mary washing Jesus’ feet, and that is what you are doing today.” Practical acts of care given to not only the person who receives it but those who give it. I was touched by the stories and the resilience I found in those who came. I walked away in new shoes of understanding of what it means to care and listen to those who are our neighbors.

The Deaconess Nurse Ministry hopes in the days ahead to do more foot clinics with those who come to food pantries and soup kitchens. We hope you join us in our work of healing grace as we do.

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