Foot Care Specialists Help Area Homeless Again This Thanksgiving

Dr. Michael Aronow (center) and Lori Engengrro retrieve a pair of shoes while Dr. Vinayak Sathe (background) performs a foot exam. (Chris DeFrancesco/UConn Health Center Photo)

Once again this year, clinical staff from the New England Musculoskeletal Institute offered free foot screenings and new shoes for the less fortunate in central Connecticut.

Dr. Michael Aronow and Dr. Vinayak Sathe, both foot and ankle surgeons, along with orthopaedics resident Lauren Geaney, physician assistant Cindy Baczewski, and medical assistants Lori Engengrro and Doreen Smith, volunteered in New Britain, at the Friendship Center, 241 Arch St., and the Salvation Army, 78 Franklin Square Tuesday evening. They screened seven people, provided 40 with a new pair of shoes and socks, and left behind 66 pairs of shoes for future use.

It’s part of a Thanksgiving week effort to provide podiatry screenings and properly fitting footwear at homeless shelters across the country. The Pennsylvania nonprofit Our Hearts to Your Soles made this a national mission in 2007, and the UConn Health Center, led by Aronow, has been involved at the local level each year since.

“I appreciate the enthusiasm and commitment that the participating New England Musculoskeletal Institute staff has shown for this project,” Aronow says. “They have more than willingly dedicated their off-duty time, skill, and compassion to help people who otherwise might not get what should be considered in this country as ‘routine foot care’ or appropriate shoe wear for the New England winter.”

Doreen Smith fits a pair of shoes.
Doreen Smith helps fit a pair of shoes. (Chris DeFrancesco/UConn Health Center Photo)

Now known as the Conti Project, this nationwide effort works in collaboration with the Tennessee nonprofits Soles4Souls and Socks2Soles, as well as retailers such as Red Wing Shoes and KEEN footwear, to obtain shoes and boots for distribution. Last year’s campaign helped more than 8,000 people in 32 locations throughout the U.S. This year’s will reach 38 cities in 33 states.

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