Inching forward from his chair and, softly placing his hands into an Epsom-salt-filled bucket of water, Kavan Mulloy grasps the foot of a homeless woman and gently scrubs the dirt and buildup away in a scene reminiscent of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
“If your foot has an issue and you don’t take care of that, you can’t walk,” Mulloy said. “And if you can’t walk, you can’t find work. And if you can’t work and you’re homeless, your days are numbered. This event is symbolic but also has a utility in that we are here to help people and better educate them about how to care for their feet and themselves.”
Over 50 homeless people had their feet washed and health checked in a tent just off NW Seventh Avenue on Saturday. The Miami Street Medicine Team, a group of medical students and volunteers, organized the event to draw attention to the issues of homelessness.
Mulloy is a University of Miami med student and member of the street team, founded in 2018 by Dan Bergholz and helps care for the homeless population of Miami.
“You need to take a moment and step back and realize what’s really important,” said Malloy, as he tossed aside a pair of gloves. “What do these people really need?”
The team conducts street runs every Saturday in Overtown. It partners with the Dade County Street Response Team, which Dr. Armen Henderson founded in 2018 to serve impoverished people in the area with healthcare. The team also helps solve housing issues and fields disaster relief teams. Henderson serves as the medical director of The Miami Street Medicine Team.
Henderson hopes the effort can help change the way medical care is provided to the homeless. The two organizations and the University of Miami Wellness Advisory Committee, came together to make the foot-washing happen.
The event was held at Liberty City’s Village Freedge, a community food bank that provides fresh daily meals to help those struggling to get food. Besides Saturday’s foot-washing, sponsors handed out new socks, shoes, food and water.
The significance of the foot-washing is rooted in religion, going back to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet before the Last Supper. The team wanted to use this event to show that people from all walks of life are human and deserve to be cared for.
James Adams, head pastor and bishop of the St. John’s Metropolitan Bible Church in Overtown, took part in the event. He described the experience as humbling and said foot washing was the ultimate service to a person.
Adams was moved by the sense of community at the event. The homeless people who showed up were treated with care and comfort by the team and volunteers.
“It shows them that there are people that really love them,” Adams said. “It shows that they aren’t lost, they are visible and people in the community see them.”