Taking care of Philly’s homeless, one step at a time

    The homeless face a long list of problems, but one Philadelphia nurse is starting at the very bottom. She’s holding a fundraiser Friday to continue offering foot care for the homeless.

    For many homeless people who refuse medical care, a foot rub is a great way to get them in the door, said Kara Cohen.

    “They’re walking all day as you can imagine, they’re walking around in shoes they didn’t necessarily purchase themselves, they’re ill-fitting, their feet get wet,” Cohen said. 

    Cohen worked with a similar program in Boston where she was a street outreach worker.

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    “I walked around the streets all day, and the guys and gals you see in the streets, those were my clients,” she said. “They were people who chose not to access shelters.” 

    Walk-ins get a soak and a foot rub. But it’s not just a day at the spa. The service, called Best Foot Forward Philly, is a nursing clinic. Those who come in receive medical evaluations, and are referred to health providers for any issues. For most of them, it’s the first time they’ve seen a healthcare professional in a long time. 

    At the end, everyone leaves with a fresh pair of socks. 

    “It sounds like it’s one thing, it sounds like it’s just soaking people’s feet. But when you get there, it’s a completely different experience,” she said. “It’s a really holistic and restorative experience, people just feel so much better about themselves.”

    Cohen’s been offering the service every other Thursday for about a year through the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Center City. Her program was originally funded by a grant, but the money recently ran out. 

    The Friday fundraiser was aimed at continuing the service.  

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