Foot Doctor’s Idea Becomes Holy Thursday Event at Carpenter’s Place
By Sharon Boehlefeld, Features Editor
April 12, 2018
ROCKFORD—When Dr. Kelly John saw a need, she acted on it.
 
And so the first foot clinic at The Carpenter’s Place was offered on Holy Thursday, March 29.
 
Dr. John admits she was inspired by Jesus, who washed the feet of His disciples on the first Holy Thursday. She even brought a painting of the scene from her office and propped it on an easel to greet guests at the clinic.
 
“At that time, to wash the feet was a servant’s (job),” she said. “He said, ‘I’m your servant. Do as I did.’ I think that’s the heart of our service.”
 
She is podiatry residency director at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center and an OrthoIllinois podiatric surgeon. 
 
Dr. John is also a member of Holy Family Parish with her husband, Jeff Haugen, and their children, Ella, a senior at Boylan Central Catholic High School, and Iver, an eighth-grader at Holy Family School.
 
She was joined by OSF podiatry residents, students and several of their family members, who provided the foot care, often beginning with a comforting soak, before nail trimming and shoe sizing.
 
After the care, guests received new shoes, socks and foot care utensils.
 
“One gentleman said he’d never had a pair of new shoes,” said Cathy Barsema, director of guest services. She and her husband, Al Barsema, established The Carpenter’s Place in 2000 as a nonprofit homeless shelter in Rockford. 
 
Dr. John gives much of the credit for organizing the event to  Dr. Brittany Wojnicki, a first year podiatry resident at OSF. Dr. Wojnicki’s husband, Dave Wojnicki, also volunteered for the clinic and brought his employer into the project. He works at Field Fastener in Machesney Park.
 
“Brittany told me about the idea (last summer),” Dave said. “We started raising funds for 85 to 87 pairs of shoes” by challenging units within Field Fastener to help.
 
He and several other Field Fastener employees volunteered for the clinic, too. They also asked Beef-a-Roo, a Rockford restaurant chain, to  donate lunches for the clinic participants.
 
Shortly after the clinic opened at 10 a.m. on Holy Thursday, there were 63 people signed up for the service. More signed up as the clinic progressed.
 
Some guests waited their turns in the dining area, others in a nearby art room. 
 
Art instructor Sue Setter, who volunteers once a week, was helping guests set up art stations. 
 
“We’re looking for volunteers,” she said. “They say so many times when they leave (the art room) they have (had) a respite from their time on the street.”
 
Cathy Barsema said they hope to make the foot clinic a twice-yearly event.
 
“I loved it,” said guest Vicki Fox. “He was doing my feet, and it felt so good.”