GM, Samaritan’s Feet pamper Detroit youth
By Donald Barnes
Special to the Michigan Citizen
DETROIT — Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme, native of Lagos, Nigeria, has dedicated his life to help children in need of inspiration — and shoes.
Ohonme is the founder and CEO of Samaritan’s Feet, an organization providing children around the globe with shoes.In 2013, Ohonme and his team distributed over 1.1 million shoes to children worldwide.
In partnership with General Motors and Buick, Ohonme held a “Foot Washing and Shoe Giveaway” Feb. 13 at the Charles H. Wright Museum.
“I left a very successful executive position at a software company to start Samaritan’s Feet with a vision to put shoes on the feet of 10 million children around the world,” Ohonme told the Michigan Citizen. “When we give them their shoes, we make a commitment to treat them like VIPs, treat them with dignity and remind them they are special and they can accomplish great things.”
Anita Riddle Johnson, director of labor relations for GM, says being able to bond with the participants of the foot-washing program was nothing less than spectacular.
“I want the kids to learn there are individuals here today spending the time to talk about the things they’ve learned on their path, and, as kids, they can do it too,” Johnson said. “This is an opportunity to be able to give back and inspire. That’s so important.”
Kavon Moorer, a fourth grader at Detroit Leadership Academy, says getting his feet washed was “sweet.” “I met a nice lady and we talked about what I want to do when I get older,” Moorer said. “I want to be a professional basketball player. I’m going to do 21 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Then I’m going to retire and go into business with my friend; we’re going to sell magazines. I also want to own a grocery store.”
Ohonme says he’s happy and blessed to be able to help children and inspire them to accomplish their dreams. “We, as leaders, are called to serve,” Ohonme said. “The greatest model of a true leader is when you’re serving leaders. That’s the model we try to portray. I always tell the kids, great things happen to those who don’t wait.”