Daniel Matea Answers Five Questions About Heart and Sole Ministries
Daniel Matea is the founder of Heart and Soles Ministries.
He was born in Costa Mesa, California, but has spent most of his life in Stark County and currently lives in Alliance. Matea is a 41-year-old Christian who founded his organization in 2018.
“I went to McKinley High School in Canton and then graduated top of my class at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts in New York City,” he said. “I am engaged to a wonderful Filipina woman named Abegail Flores, and how we met is how Heart and Soles began.”
He has a pit bull/boxer mix dog named Layla and three cats named Jazz, Sasha, and Nick Chubb.
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Why did you create Heart and Soles?
In 2017, I was randomly chatting with people online trying to encourage them. In September of that year, I met a Filipina woman on Facebook named Abegail, who lived in Luzon in the Philippines.
She was going through a tough time and she and I became friends as I tried to help her through it. Towards the end of 2018, I was video chatting with her when I noticed her nieces and nephews were still barefoot.
Thinking they like being barefoot all the time, I made a comment about it and Abegail informed me that many of them couldn’t afford a pair of shoes. One of his nephews, Ryhn, had a foot infection and because he had special needs, it was difficult for his family to rest his foot so he could recover. Instead, he kept running on it and they feared it would get worse.
I thought if we provided him with a pair of shoes. He could continue to play and his parents could keep his foot bandaged so that his injury healed. As it was almost Christmas time, I asked my friends and family to help me out and we bought a bunch of toys, sweets and shoes for the kids and shipped them to the Philippines.
On Christmas Day, I got to watch the kids open all their presents. When the children started to open the shoes, they were delighted to receive them. I expected them to behave the way most American children behave when given clothes or shoes, and I thought they would say thank you and go back to toys.
Instead, they forgot about the toys and candy, and got so excited about the shoes that they started crying. A little girl named TinTin grabbed her shoes and started hugging them and crying. I was so blown away by their response.
In the days that followed, neighborhood kids found out and started showing up asking if there was anything they could do to get a pair of shoes, too. I soon realized it was more important than I thought, and without even a plan or a name, Heart and Soles was born.
I started touring local churches, businesses, and food pantries to see if I could raise money to help even more kids. I realized that local shelters and pantries had very few shoes to distribute to the local community. The shoe problem seemed to be here too.
Millions of children all over the world go without shoes for their feet simply because they cannot afford them. They try to use rubber tires, two-liter bottles, or whatever they can fit together to get some kind of comfort for their feet.
What makes it worse is that we live in a world where we throw garbage everywhere, and these children are then forced to step on it. It becomes a bigger problem when the trash they step on is broken bottles, rusty nails, or even needles.
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Could you detail some of the projects the organization has been involved in?
Heart and Soles continued to grow, and although our mission was geared towards children, we also provided shoes for adults, should they need them. We have become the premier footwear supplier in the Stark County area.
We provide footwear for all local Stark County food pantries and homeless centers like Michael’s World, Crossroads, and Clothed in Righteousness. Last year, we partnered with Clothed in Righteousness and donated shoes to over 110 families in need in our local community.
We also started stocking the Alliance Pregnancy Center so that any mother who needed shoes for her children could get them for free. We’ve provided cleats to McKinley High School and Alliance City Schools, so any kid who wants to play a sport can do so without worrying if they can afford the proper cleats. We also took our Heart and Soles team to the Homeless Stand Down at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
We work hard to help those around us in need and have made Heart and Soles a service-oriented charity that has helped and supported our local communities. We started an annual sandals giveaway in Luzon, Philippines, and every Christmas since 2019, we’ve provided sandals to any child in need in the town where Abegail lives.
Abegail leads the project to help Heart and Soles reach children in her village. From 2021 we started to grow even more and started a project in which we provided shoes for every child in an orphanage (Christ Children’s Care) in Sierra Leone, Africa, and we hope to help even more orphanages in this region this year.
We have also partnered with Polish Christian Ministries to provide shoes for Ukrainian refugees crossing the Polish border. Many of these refugees have had to walk hundreds of kilometers to get to safety and their shoes are destroyed, and many places are not equipped to provide them with shoes.
What is your personal philosophy when it comes to helping others?
Heart and Soles was started with a mission to help people in need. Shoes are often a forgotten item to help others, but when you’re the one without them, it may be the only thing on your mind.
When I speak at churches or at events, I often ask people to imagine stepping on a Lego and think how much it hurts, because some of the people we help deal with this pain all the time. daytime. Or imagine walking hundreds of miles in shoes with worn soles where you can feel every step along the way, or with holes in your shoes where your feet are so wet and cold that’s all you can think.
There are children and parents all over the world who worry about them every day. We just want to help them, one child at a time, until one day we can ensure that no child has to worry about it again.
I always remember the scripture in James 2:14-17 where it talks about faith without works is dead, and in Matthew 25:40 where Jesus says “Truly I say to you, since you you did to one of the smaller ones, you did it to me.”
Would you share a particular talent that your colleagues or others would be surprised to learn that you possess?
I can solve a Rubik’s Cube, I can do card tricks, and I have a degree in film production. Also, I have almost 9 million views on my Google reviews.
What are some of your favorite places to visit in Stark County?
I like to try new places and see new things. But my favorite place would have to be the Walborn Reservoir at Alliance.
Editor’s Note: Five Questions With… is a Sunday feature that features a member of the Stark County community. If you would like to recommend someone to participate, email [email protected]