Skip to main content


Chicago activist gives globally, despite personal loss

Previous Next
Share Your Soles founder Mona Purdy in Haiti. (Courtesy of Share Your Soles)

Mona Purdy lost everything in a home fire four months ago. But the tragedy hasn't stopped her charitable work.

Purdy is founder and executive director of Share Your Soles, a group that provides shoes to people throught the developing world. She says her group has provided over 1.25 million pairs of shoes in the last 12 years. She's also one of Worldview’s long-time global activists.

I spoke to Purdy just days after she became homeless. But Purdy wasn't focused on the catastrophe she had just lived through. Instead, she was obsessed with getting back to Haiti.

Purdy told me during that phone call how she'd met people all over the world who had lost absolutely everything due to war or natural disasters. She said she saw the same empty, hollow look in their eyes. After losing so much herself, Pudy said she had gotten a small, bitter taste of what life was like for them. She concluded that, in spite of her loss, she still had nothing to complain about.

Since the fire, Purdy has been to Haiti twice. I heard from her today, and she reiterated why she continues her work:

I am asked repeatedly why I go to Haiti. [The answer is] the faces of these beautiful children, who are so innocent of the cruelties done to them. I return because of the need [and] because I know our returning assures them of trust that no matter what happens, we will keep on trying.

I know we make a difference. Ask those who have gotten shoes; then ask those who know they will.

Purdy faces obstacels in her work beyond her recent personal loss. Share Your Soles will soon lose their warehouse facility, which they use to store and clean donated shoes.

You can contact Share Your Soles to learn more about their current situation, and hear Purdy describe her work when she stops by Wednesday to update us on conditions on the ground in Haiti. In the meantime, check out this video – the first in a series Purdy's group will produce – about the group's work in Haiti:

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.