Growing up, Rikki Mendias spent years living with his mother in a shelter. Because of this, they didn’t have a ton of extra money to buy all the latest styles other kids were rocking. Not having that stuff was tough on Mendias as a young adult. That’s why he still remembers so vividly the time he was gifted two brand new pairs of Vans by a stranger. The kindness of that act never left him.
It’s a big reason why Mendias started his organization, Hav A Sole, which gives out new or gently used sneakers to the homeless. See, when he grew up and started working, he tried to make up for lost time — buying all the kicks he could get his hands on. At one point, the kid who’d once been delighted by having two pairs of never worn sneakers at once, owned over 150 pairs. But even with all that gear, he didn’t feel fulfilled. So he gave his awesome collection of sneakers away to people in need. It felt good.
Four years later, that single act of kindness has grown. Hav a Sole has given out twelve thousand pairs of sneakers at this point — brightening people’s days in the same way a stranger once did for Mendias. Because it’s not just about needing a pair of shoes, it’s about the dignity of having something special. Something new that you love.
“It’s small but really significant,” Mendias says of the project. “It’s not going to change their situation, but I think that we bring such a special energy that it does change their outlook, at least for a day.”
Watch the video above to find out more about Hav A Sole.