Every third week of each month, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church partners with Dégagé Ministries, a Grand Rapids, Mich., community outreach for women in crisis, those in need of food, shelter, and services, to host a free medical foot spa open house. Suzan Couzens, Faith Community Nurse at Dégagé, began the ministry in January 2007.
She said she felt called during a sermon. “How might I get to know people in the neighborhood, not as a nurse who talks to them about health but as a nurse who serves them in the name of Christ?” said Couzens when asked about the beginnings of foot spa outreach.
Since its beginnings, the outreach event has grown tremendously. The number of volunteers has grown from six to over 30. Faith community nurses, church members, and students from the nursing program at Calvin College meet in LaGrave’s multipurpose room. Word of the ministry gets out almost solely by word of mouth. About 60 clients each month are led into the church to tubs of warm, lavender-scented water. While a nurse assesses each guest, clients receive a foot soak, toenail trim, foot massage, and a listening ear. Many will talk to the nurses, which leads the health-givers to prayer. Along with a lesson on health care, guests also enjoy a complimentary meal. Haircuts are also provided.
“One of my first experiences was with a man named John,” said Couzens. “He was quiet, with kind eyes, tattered clothes, looking like what most call typical homeless. After soaking his feet, trimming his toenails and massaging his tired feet, I asked John how I could pray for him. His response, “Oh ma’am, could you please pray for my friend David? He be feeling poorly. Not sure what is wrong with him.”
Prayers provided by the nurses are often complemented with prayers from Heartside community residents for their friends, loved ones, and the nurses who are generously giving their time each month. “When is the next foot spa day?” ask many of the clients upon receiving services.