My name is Kelly and I’m the founder of Ruben’s Shoes. I have been sponsoring Ruben through World Vision since he was 3 years old and in December 2012 when Ruben was 10, I had the opportunity to meet and spend a day with him in the Dominican Republic. After spending the day with Ruben, meeting his family and seeing his home and living conditions I felt compelled to do something to help him and his people. I didn’t know where to start or what I could do but I knew I had to do something. The one thing that wouldn’t leave my thoughts was the image of Ruben and the children in his village all running around without any shoes.
I started doing some research and I found out that there are millions of children and adults around the world who don’t even own one pair of shoes. Not one pair! Beyond this, I found out that shoes are mandatory to attend school, so children that don’t have any shoes can’t go to school. To me this was something I could definitely help with. We have an abundance of shoes where I live so I started a small project to collect some gently used shoes from my friends and mostly their children. The idea caught on like wildfire; flash forward 2 years later we have shipped 2 containers with over 23,000 pairs of shoes to the Dominican Republic and are about to ship another 10,000 pairs to Sierra Leone this summer.
My journey is to help bring opportunity and equality to all of mankind and to animals. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to volunteer and do humanitarian work. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be doing the work through my own organization. It has now become my complete calling, my passion, my burning desire, my fulfillment and the reason for my GLOW. I believe that every person around the world is the same, we all want the same thing and we deserve the same thing. A 10 year old boy in the Dominican Republic is no different than a 10 year old boy in Canada. I believe that every person should at the very least have access to clean water, shelter, food, medical care and education.
Our mission is to deliver education and access to education.
What has been YOUR biggest challenge or life obstacle that YOU feel has dimmed YOUR GLOW?
When I was 19 I was in a serious life-altering car accident. I had to re-learn how to walk again and let go of my dreams of becoming a nurse. I spent 6 years in physio getting my strength and physical abilities back and learning to deal with chronic neck and back pain while all of my friends went off to university and started their careers. This accident came after I already lost my two best friends a year apart when I was just 14 and 15 years old.
Needless to say I had lost my way in life. I lost my passion and I didn’t know what the purpose for my life was. It was a very difficult struggle for me; not just a physical struggle but mentally those were the hardest years I had ever faced. It took me many, many years to get my glow back and truthfully it didn’t come back until I met Ruben. After meeting Ruben everything changed for me. He gave me my glow back. He gave me a reason to live and through him I found my purpose.
How have YOU grown as a woman in the last year? What lessons, insights or ah-ha moments have you had?
In the last year I’ve really learned to let go of life’s pressures. I am currently 35 years old and for the last few years I have let society really bring me down because I am not married and I don’t have kids. I didn’t fully allow myself to celebrate my success because people would always focus on the fact that I hadn’t found Mr. Right…even my family and friends.
But within the last year I let all of that go and have had a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have time to compare myself to others or worry about what others are thinking. I’m on a serious life journey and won’t let anything come in the way of living my best life and helping others live theirs. The husband and kids will come at the right time, or not, either way I’m going to be just fine!
I want people to believe in themselves and to reach for their goals. Life is too short to not live to your full potential. You will always find an excuse as to why not chase after your dreams but there will never be that perfect time to just go for it.
The people who love you the most will always support you; and I believe you will never regret trying. Once you fully believe in yourself you truly can do anything you set your mind to….even if you don’t have all the answers right away. When I started Ruben’s Shoes, I had NO idea that we would be where we are today. It started with a heartfelt simple idea to get some shoes to people that I cared about who really needed them. That’s it. I followed my heart and I didn’t let any objections or fear get in my way.
Kelly and the Ruben’s Shoes team have launched their I AM ONE Indiegogo crowd-funding campaign. All it takes is one small donation and the compounding effect will get them to their goal of $20,000 which is needed to expand their school and can give education to even more children! Join their I AM ONE tribe by making a $5 donation here:
Every woman has a story. Glow Girls are women who are consciously creating the lives their hearts and souls desire even though life has presented them some challenges and bumps along the way. Their light shines through the cracks creating GLOW. Every week we feature a new GLOW GIRL and her story. Don’t miss it! Join the YOU GLOW GIRL! Community on Facebook. Want to share your story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to become a Glow Girl!
Learn more about Diane and how she can help you or your organization here!