When Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar arrived at the University of Lynchburg earlier this month as president-elect, she brought with her a passion for servant leadership and ideas about how she’d share this passion with her new campus community.
In particular, she told members of the University community about Samaritan’s Feet International, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that “serves and inspires hope in children by providing shoes as the foundation to a spiritual and healthy life resulting in the advancement of education and economic opportunities.”
Since 2003, Samaritan’s Feet has served more than seven million people all over the world.
On Saturday, Aug. 1, the University and its Master of Nonprofit Leadership Studies program will partner with Samaritan’s Feet at Building Our Community Together, a free, public event organized by One Community One Voice Lynchburg.
The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Riverfront Park on Jefferson Street in downtown Lynchburg. It brings together numerous area universities, nonprofits, and other groups.
At the event, Lynchburg students and faculty and Morrison-Shetlar, on her first official day as University president, will hand out new shoes and socks to up to 400 area children.
“I look forward to being involved on my first day as president,” Morrison-Shetlar said.
The event also will include clothing and school supply giveaways, a live DJ, local bands, food trucks, face painting, balloons, and more. Usually, Samaritan’s Feet events also includes foot-washing, but due to COVID-19 and social distancing it will not be part of this event.
Morrison-Shetlar has been involved with Samaritan’s Feet since 2014, when she was provost at Western Carolina University. “Alison … was introduced to Samaritan’s Feet via an alumni board member from Western Carolina University,” Scott Wood, special projects director at SFI, said.
“Along with a couple of colleagues, she led the students on a cross-culture missions trip to South Africa, conducted a leadership class that had direct involvement with Samaritan’s Feet, and helped activate students through barefoot races and other fundraising events across student organizations.”
Along the way, Morrison-Shetlar developed a close relationship with founder Manny Ohonme and his family. “Manny is very supportive of me and our work together,” she said. “We have developed a great friendship and I’m a fan.
“As soon as he knew I was moving to Lynchburg, he reached out and suggested a partnership.”
Ellen Thompson was one of the first people Morrison-Shetlar talked with at Lynchburg about Samaritan’s Feet. “She has had a wonderful experience working with SFI at other institutions,” Thompson, director of Lynchburg’s Center for Global Education, said.
“I immediately saw a connection with the mission of SFI and the University’s mission and felt like there were a lot of different areas on campus that could partner with SFI, especially programs with a strong focus on leadership and/or service.”