Everyday Hero: Volunteer called to help lace up dreams for others
Published 12:10 am Friday, October 24, 2014
NATCHEZ — At the age of 15, Paulette Delaney wondered what she could do to make a difference in the world.
Delaney went to Mexico with her father, where she discovered what she would describe as, “heart breaking poverty.”
“I was a 15-year-old girl, and I remember sitting in the back of the car in tears,” Delaney said. “I kept thinking there has to be an answer to this, surly there is something I can do.”
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Delaney began doing mission work shortly after. Now at 62, she has not stopped, but only excelled in her calling.
For the second time, Delaney and HeartHidden Ministries will help families in Kenya, Africa, develop as a community through donated shoes.
Delaney is conducting a shoe drive in Natchez and surrounding areas until the end of December, where she and HeartHidden Ministries will take used pairs of shoes to benefit micro-enterprise ventures in developing nations and keeping old shoes out of local landfills.
The Natchez drop-off location is in the Trace Town Shopping Center parking lot behind the McDonald’s on Seargent S. Prentiss Drive.
Delaney thinks the shoe drive is the best solution for stopping poverty.
“Research tells us for a community or family to have a self sustaining lively hood, they need to have farms and gardens, a money saving group and they need to have micro-enterprise,” Delaney said.
Delaney said by donating gently worn or used shoes to the shoe drive, all shoes will be redistributed to micro-enterprise partners and used in Africa for impoverished people to start, maintain and grow a unique business opportunity to provide for their families.
“Instead of giving a hand out, we are giving them an opportunity for income,” Delaney said. “Train a man to sell fish, and he’ll have more than fish.”
The people of Africa repair, clean and sell the shoes. This grants them the funds to provide for their families, where children won’t have to be shipped off to orphanages because of a lack of food or income.
Delaney and her husband, James, provide Kenya natives their first inventory, while also paying for their first time’s rent, if they were to get a stall.
“After the first time, they’re own their own,” Delaney said. “But we have people who show them how to manage their business, we just don’t walk off.”
Delaney’s efforts have proven to work for some in Kenya.
A native of Kenya was on the verge of sending off her kids to an orphanage. Now, however, since the first shoe drive, she has a sustaining business, and a cell phone to match.
“All we had to do was send shoes,” Delaney said. “We want to keep the children with the family.”
Delaney said her idea for the shoe drive came about while searching Google for ways to prevent poverty.
Delaney thanks the City of Natchez for their participation as over 12,000 pairs of shoes was donated on the first shoe drive.
“This is so important,” James said. “This woman is phenomenal. Not only does she have the passion and the burden for it, but she will get to talking to other people who will gain the passion she has.”
Shoes must come in pairs and be placed in a bag before being dropped off at their location.