George “The Shoeman” Hutchings has lived a life of service.
At 17, he deployed to Vietnam with the U.S. Marines, became a sergeant and earned the Purple Heart after being shot three times. Though he never returned to combat, Hutchings has continued fighting for others.
In 1980, Hutchings obtaining a master’s degree from Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary. By 1994, he founded Eagle Wings Ministries, a Christian charity that aids international students attending college in the United States. Through that work, he befriended a Kenyan who’d never owned a pair of shoes prior to graduating from high school. While collecting used shoes to send home to his friends and family, the student asked Hutchings for help with the task … and so began the man’s devotion to the people and plight of Kenya.
Since 1998, Hutchings has made trip after trip to deliver shoes, meals and medical supplies to the African nation only to realize that clean water is truly the greatest need.
So in 2008, Hutchings learned how to drill simple water wells and founded Shoeman Water Projects. By collecting used shoes and selling them to an exporter who distributes them to street vendors in places like South America, Kenya and Haiti, Hutchings can get shoes to people, and purchase water drilling rigs and purification systems to help those who thirst.
“The Shoeman” has collected over 4 million pairs of shoes and brought clean water to too many people to count. Through Shoeman Water Projects, Hutchings hopes to expand his work to other places throughout the world in desperate need of water.
Learn more about George’s life and thirst for clean water in his book, Combat Survival – Life Stories from a Purple Heart.
Executive Director and General Counsel
Ken is a non-profit executive and attorney with twenty-five years of professional experience working for and with nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Shoeman Water Projects, he served as Senior Legal Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources for Saint Louis University. He has also represented and consulted with other institutions of higher education. His nonprofit leadership resume includes director and chairman of the board for three organizations, including Justine Peterson Community Reinvestment Corporation, The Special Needs Soccer Association, and HealthLine Corporate Health Services (where he additionally served as secretary). As Executive Director & General Counsel, Ken is responsible for Shoeman Water Projects’ finance, human resources, operations, strategic planning, and legal services. Ken has two daughters. He and his wife go almost nowhere without their dog, the unofficial Shoeman office guard, and spend as much time with their grandson as they can.
VP, Development and Communications
Steve is a seasoned footwear industry veteran who has completed 40 years of sales, marketing, and executive management in consumer goods, specifically footwear, apparel, and related accessories. He has developed market strategies and opportunities and designed and managed products for such well-known companies as Timberland, Ecco, and Rockport/ Reebok/Avia. In addition, Steve has consulted, directed, and held board member positions for philanthropic organizations, including the Two Ten International Footwear Foundation, Discovering Options, and St. Louis K Life. As the Director of Development and Communications, Steve develops and oversees all marketing, communications, and operational strategic plans in conjunction with external revenue generation, including events and fundraisers. He brings not only professional experience, but also the skills and savvy of an Eagle Scout, and deep passions for helping people be better at who they are and what they accomplish. He lives in Kirkwood, Missouri with his wife. Together, they have four children and one grandchild.
Becky brings over 2 decades of marketing and sales experience to the Shoeman Water Projects team. As a Development Representative, she establishes professional partnerships with businesses and organizations not only as a means of donation outreach but also in order to forges collaborations for special events, which she helps coordinates. A crux of her position is personal outreach, especially through the delivery of mission presentations. Married and with two daughters, Becky welcomes a break from family chaos with a good book.
Katherine connects Shoeman Water Projects with the education community. She reaches out to schools of all grade levels across the state and beyond in order to coordinate shoe drives, delivering mission presentations at each institute and working to sustain continued collaborations. Her ongoing work within the local nonprofit area includes serving as an executive board member of the summer theater festival, St. Louis Fringe. She is married with two daughters, and her favorite weekend ritual is church, followed by a stroll with her Weimareiner.
Willy completes shipments and maintains the warehouse operations. The Shoeman environment extends beyond the office: he oversees donation storage, securing safe, smooth operations. Willy’s jokes keep the office in high spirits. When he has the free time, he’s gone fishin’.