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Have You Ever Walked in Someone Else’s Shoes? The Recreate Cafe Has…

The following was contributed by Tenika Dye, ReCreate Cafe Artistic Director, for The Salvation Army 614 Corps.  You can find them on facebook and also follow them on twitter.

Two weeks ago, The Salvation Army 614 Corps’ ReCreate Café hosted the premiere of a short film that highlights our ongoing Walk In My Shoes project.  The concept is to present real stories from Chattanooga citizens—regardless of their housing situation—by having performers tell another person’s story rather than their own.

The film was created by SVAD Productions, directed by Leif Ramsey and produced by ArtsBuild of Chattanooga.  It’s a tremendous gift to The Salvation Army and highlights our work beautifully.  Walk In My Shoes seems like a simple concept; however, its impact has proven to be great.  It’s much more than having a cool video to show people what we do: people are challenged and lives are changed!

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Leif Ramsey (left), Lee Sanders (middle), Bruce Shaw (right).

This beautiful film centers on Lee, who is homeless, and Bruce, the performer who told Lee’s story.  Lee’s wife passed away on Christmas three years ago, which sent him spiraling into homelessness.  The two men became friends and remain in contact.  Lee recently left his “homeless camp” and was welcomed into the home of new friends from his church.  He even interviewed for a job as a direct result of opening up his life in this film project.

“I can’t begin to explain it all. I never had done anything like “Walk In My Shoes” before.  It’s given me the opportunity to give back in some small way to The Salvation Army and to the community.  Also it gave me the courage and confidence that made me want to move forward in my life and NOT be stuck on the streets and be happy with a life of never doing, only existing!  It’s not about just content anymore, but the drive to move to something better, something that God wants for me and for me to do with my life!”- Lee

“It’s made me consider the question, ‘to what extent am I my brother’s keeper’ and what actions should I reasonably take based on my answer?  It’s clarified my perspective in terms of what constitutes worthy work for me as a performing artist.” – Bruce

And the change didn’t stop with Lee and Bruce.  Leif Ramsey was also challenged by the project. ”Directing Walk in My Shoes [the film] completely changed my perceptions.  It had never occurred to me that these people—maybe just a few years before, had been like you or me—with a good job and a loving family.  When I was filming “Walk in My Shoes,” something very rare happened: I got to see someone’s life [Lee’s] change course right in front of me, in real time.”

So, walk in my shoes.

The 614 Arts Program is in the process of collecting new stories for the third edition of Walk In My Shoes.  If you have a story to share, want to perform or would just like to support the project, contact me at 423-305-6208 or at tenika_dye@uss.salvationarmy.org.

“Empathy is created, unlikely relationships are made, and lives are changed!”  – Tenika Dye

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