Foot washing for 250 at CRE 2015

Sarah Phillips, Senior Warden of Church of the Redeemer, massaging a foot being washed.The feet of about 250 people experiencing homelessness were washed by volunteers organized by Church of the Redeemer, Kenmore, Washington. This happened at the 2015 Community Resource Exchange on Thursday, April 23, 2015, sponsored by United Way of King County in the Century Link Field event center in Seattle. In all, there were 1,300 people who received services from about 550 volunteers and 110 service provides at the Community Resource Exchange.

The people being served the efforts organized by Church of the Redeemer received more than clean feet. They also received socks, travel-sized lotion and foot powder, nail clippers, wash cloths, nail trimming, and—most of all—a listening ear and moment of companionship.

When the volunteers arrived in the morning, they were happy to learn that Century Link had provided a new tankless water heater for the foot washing station. This resulted in a consistent flow of hot water down to the very last guest of the day. Many guests expressed their heartfelt appreciation for the experience of sitting and soaking sore feet in hot water.

It took a large team of people to make it possible to wash the feet of those experiencing homelessness. Emily Austin manages to organize volunteers, not all of whom are from Church of the Redeemer. Mark Phillips from Redeemer drove supplies from Kenmore to Century Link the day before the Community Resource Exchange. Teri Howatt, another member of Redeemer, did laundry duty.

All clients had their feet washed. However, some clients received advanced foot care from a trained team of people. Anne Walton, Sharon Villa, and Pat Ginsburg first assembled the tools. Then they skillfully and consistently worked all day, even squeezing in the last three waiting guests after doors closed.

Looking to the future

Debi Laughlin washing a foot.All the volunteers doing foot washing at the 2015 Community Resource Exchange were amazing. The day was a huge success. However, there is planning for the future.

There is a need for solid, lightweight tables at each station. These are needed to hold towels, tools, and other items used to serve the clients.

Some of the clients have arthritis or other challenges that provided difficulties in caring for their feet while sitting in folding chairs. There is a need for something for these clients to lie or sit upon while caring for their feet.

Foot washing ministry at Church of the Redeemer

Washing feet at events organized by United Way of King County to provide services to those experiencing homelessness has organized for many years through Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore, Washington. The person behind organizing this is Emily Austin.

In April 2013, Austin connected washing the feet of those experiencing homelessness with volunteering as a sacristan in a talk about stewardship.

To inquire about the foot washing ministry at Church of the Redeemer, send an email message to

Community Resource Exchange of United Way of King County

The Community Resource Exchange shows we care. It’s a day that connects people experiencing homelessness with important resources like a dental check, new shoes, a meal and more. With the help of 550 volunteers and 110 service providers, we were able to help 1,300 people experiencing homelessness on April 23, 2015.

The bigger hope for the day was to change the way people view homelessness: to challenge the misconceptions and to see the other side, the human side, of the story. A day where people who are homeless know others really care about them, care about their story and about helping them.

For more information, visit United Way of King County Community Resource Exchange.

Church of the Redeemer

Community life at Redeemer centers on worship in the Episcopal traditionArt and music vitally deepen this worship. Our faith expresses itself with service to people, locally to internationally.

Church of the Redeemer is at 6210 Northeast 181st Street in Kenmore, Washington. We are a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. The entrance looks like a gravel driveway. The campus is larger on the inside than it is on the outside.

The Episcopal Church welcomes you.

All photos used in this article were taken by Meryl Schenker and provided by United Way of King County. The primary information for the text came from Emily Austin.