You could say that Protalus is a company with heart and insole.
The West Linn-based company designs insoles that are intended to increase mobility, comfort and performance and seek to focus on the cause of pain rather than symptoms of discomfort. They are used by men and women in tennis shoes, flats, boots and even high heels to correct alignment and relieve knee and back pain. Protalus took years of clinical application and research from biomechanics, orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists and engineers.
And now these insoles will be making walking and life in general more comfortable for homeless people in Portland.
Looking for a way to recycle the insoles, the company's philanthropy coordinator, Krista Taylor, discovered It's From the Sole, a New York City nonprofit founded by Andre McDonnell and focused on helping people experiencing homelessness. Taylor says she was moved by McDonnell's statement on the website, itsfromthesole.org: "One day in 2012, after playing basketball with friends, I spotted a homeless man with no shoes on his feet. A sense of urgency came over me that nudged my soul to take action. This nudge prompted me to take the sneakers off my feet, and offer them to this gentleman. Feeling the gravel under his feet, nothing compared with the immense gratitude he experienced with this small act of kindness, as he returned a smile. At that point, I realized there are many more unfortunate people similar to this man, without so much as a decent pair of shoes. I knew in my heart there had to be something more I could do to make their walk through life a little easier."
"I called Andre and asked if he might have a use for our insoles," Taylor said. "From our first conversation, I loved his energy."
McDonnell said he began collection donations to launch It's From the Sole, and "once ready for distribution, I would fill a rolling duffel bag, hop on the train and hand-deliver sneakers to the homeless in three locations of Manhattan — Port Authority Bus Terminal, Bryant Park and Union Square — known as the Love Triangle. ... We've collected, refurbished and given a ton of shoes, clothing and food to the homeless population. Our mission is to do this every day in every city!"
She pitched to Protalus owners Chris Buck and Henrik Norremark the idea of flying McDonnell to Portland for a shoe drive to benefit Portland's homeless. They agreed; McDonnell will be in Portland July 17-20, and they plan on delivering new or gently used shoes with fresh Protalus insoles to Portland Rescue Mission July 19.
"And, while Andre is here, we will walk around Portland and give out shoes," said Taylor.
Spin Laundry Lounge, an eco-focused laundromat located at 750 N. Fremont St. in Portland has volunteered to wash the shoes, then Protalus will fit them with insoles. Each pair of shoes will come with a pair of socks donated by Portland-based Sock It to Me.
Want to get in on this feel good, good feet story? Taylor encourages everyone to donate new or gently used shoes to the project. Donation boxes are located:
n In West Linn at Protalus, 1750 Blankenship Road, Suite 125; Forge Hot Yoga, 1554 Garden St., Suite 101, and at West Linn Café, 1887 Willamette Falls Drive;
n In Beaverton at Cloud Nine Dental, 8285 S.W. Nimbus, Suite 185; and
n In Portland at Quantum Spatial, Inc., 421 S.W. Sixth Ave., Suite 800; Common Wealth Building, 421 S.W. Sixth Ave.; and New Heights Physical Therapy, 5736 N.E. Glisan St.
Taylor said a second distribution will take place at Project Homeless Connect on Aug. 25 in Hillsboro.
"We'll hand out shoes and insoles to children going back to school, plus backpacks and school supplies," she said. All sizes of shoes are needed, as they will be serving children elementary through high school.
But the deadline to donate for the July 19 delivery to Portland Rescue Mission is July 15.
Questions can be directed to Taylor at 503-380-5393.
To learn more about Protalus, visit protalus.com. To learn more about It's From the Sole visit itsfromthesole.org.