MIAMI — Parties often draw crowds because of good music, great food and famous party guests.
But 58-year old Palemon Gaime came to a block party in Miami last week for a more practical reason.
“I came mostly for my feet,” said Gaime, whose toe nails had become long, and some were even discolored. “I don’t take care of them at all.”
Homeless for 17 years, Gaime has neglected proper foot care. At the Miami Rescue Mission block party, a medical school student volunteer washed and examined his feet.
Gaime was not alone.
On Good Friday, April 2, over 300 people received podiatric care as Miami Rescue Mission celebrated its fourth annual “Thanksgiving in April” event at its downtown Miami campus.
The foot care station was inspired by the biblical story of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, an act now largely interpreted as expressing humility and devotion.
The Rev. Ronald Brummitt, president of the Miami Rescue Mission and Broward Outreach Centers, said, “We do these events to let [the homeless and hungry] know that they are not forgotten and that God loves them and so do we.”
The party also provided live entertainment, free meals, showers, clothing, Easter baskets for the children and hair cuts.
Established in 1922, the Miami Rescue Mission combines ministry with homeless outreach. In addition to emergency services offered for the needy and homeless such as beds and meals, the center offers clothing and showers.
The centers also offer a yearlong regeneration program for men and women suffering from various issues such as homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. They are allowed to participate in group counseling, life skills and academic courses.
At the block party, Miami Dade College medical campus students provided various health screenings, including checks for high blood pressure and diabetes. Barry University podiatry students provided free foot exams.
Overtown retiree Clara Mae Jenkins has attended every “Thanksgiving in April” event since its inception.
“[The volunteers] just treat me so good,” she said. “I love learning how to take care of my feet and body instead of being in the doctor’s [office].”
Others agreed that the foot care station was an important and convenient service.
David Auguste, a third-year student of podiatry at Barry University, said, “A lot of people don’t get to see a doctor, and this is the only time for them to get podiatric care.”
In addition to its downtown Miami location, the “Thanksgiving in April” event also took place at the Miami Rescue Mission’s Broward Outreach Centers in Pompano Beach and Hollywood.
Altogether, the block parties served an estimated 1,700 homeless and low-income individuals, according to Marilyn Brummitt, wife of Rev. Brummitt, and director of Community Development for Miami Rescue Mission.
For the Miami Rescue Mission/Broward Outreach Centers, helping meet the needs of so many marked just another ordinary day.