Paul Wellman

Foot Washing Event Caters to Downtrodden

Annual Foot Washing Event Gives More Than Shoes and Socks

Touching a person’s bare feet is nothing like shaking their hand. It’s intimate, whether the feet are pampered and polished or banged up and callused. Imagine then washing the feet of a stranger. Imagine the stranger slept in a doorway every night, didn’t take regular showers, maybe had a drinking problem or mental illness.

That’s what happened over and over again on Thursday, April 21st, at the Fourth Annual Homeless Foot Washing event. Volunteers from up and down Santa Barbara’s economic strata sat at foot washing stations in the Veteran’s Memorial Building, while homeless or otherwise needy individuals lowered their feet into sudsy tubs of water to have them washed, clipped, moisturized and tucked into clean, white pairs of cotton socks.

“Oh man, this is so nice. That is so great,’ said homeless veteran Donald when volunteer Debbie McQuade put a new sock on his right foot.

“Are you going to put on your new shoes, or stay in your old shoes?” she asked.

That was the other part of the Foot Washing event–new pairs of shoes were given out to any homeless or economically disadvantaged person needing them. Lunch was also served.

Donald, who had baby blue eyes, light brown hair and looked around 50, got a brand new pair of construction boots. He didn’t want to wear them out though.

McQuade and Donald had already been chatting for fifteen minutes when I began listening in to their conversation. He told McQuade about the visit his mother and sister made to Santa Barbara a few weeks earlier to see him, and how it had been tough on them all, given his homelessness and severe dependence on alcohol. He said he’d been in the Veterans Affairs hospital recently for 41 days. Though he got sober, the shakes never completely stopped. To read more, see

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

event calendar sponsored by:

Crime Rates Down, Youth Arrests Up in Santa Barbara County

A 'high percentage' of misdemeanor citations happen on school campuses.

Will Hollister Ranch Access Deal Hold Up Under Public Scrutiny?

State commissioners are taking a closer look at settlement over beach access to Santa Barbara County gated ...

Faced with a Gun, Sheriff’s Sergeant Holds His Fire

Sgt. Freddy Padilla reflects on potentially life-saving decisions during welfare call.

Quick Response in Large Numbers Held Holiday Fire at Bay

Record heat on July 6 destroyed crops and livestock.

Los Padres Officials Ban Campfires, Firearm Discharge

Temporary measures are enacted during peak fire season.