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Valerie Pringle lives life by a quote attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

After a long and successful career in broadcasting, Valerie has dedicated herself for nearly 15 years to The Trans Canada Trail Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that's building one of the world's longest recreational trails from one coast of Canada to the other.

And, after nearly 25 years of work, they're almost done.


The Great Trail, when finished, will be roughly 15,000 miles long. Image by The Great Trail, used with permission.

The Great Trail, as it's called, started in 1992 on Canada's 125th birthday. New trails were forged and dedicated across the nation to celebrate the event.

Pringle says the founders of the organization had the simple but powerful idea of connecting all the major trails across Canada.

"They had this inspiration that all Canadians should be able to see [the different parts] of their country," Pringle says. "But who knew it would be so hard?"

The Coastal Trail in Fundy National Park. Photo by Parks Canada and the Province of New Brunswick, used with permission.

Pringle joined the team in 2002. For the past couple of years, she's worked tirelessly to raise the $75 million needed to finish off the 25-year project — just in time for Canada's 150th celebration.

Fundraising challenges were tough, but there was also the little matter of working with hundreds of different agencies, private land owners, and community leaders across Canada's provinces and territories.

"It took about 60 years to build the Appalachian Trail," she says. "We had to be patient."

The Celtic Shores Coastal Trail. Photo by Nova Scotia Trails Federation, used with permission.

By rehabilitating old trails, connecting new ones, and dedicating portions of land along the way, the foundation has created a truly impressive network of gorgeous landscape across Canada.

It's all connected or will be very soon — everything from urban walkways, quiet countryside roads, paddling trails, and deep wilderness paths.

Best of all, Pringle says some portion of the The Great Trail is half an hour or less away from about 80% of the population.

Ridge Road Heritage Trail. Photo by Greg Skuce/Yukon government, used with permission.

If one were so inclined, they could start on a trail in Victoria, British Columbia, wind their way up through Yukon, then trek their way east into Nova Scotia and beyond.

Ride the Sky Trail. Photo by Al Skucas, used with permission.

That's Pringle's favorite part about the project. Not just the preservation of nature, but the way it unites Canadians in a tangible way.

Slave River paddling. Photo by The Great Trail used with permission.

"I tell kids, 'If you turn this way, you can go to St. John's, Newfoundland. If you take a right in Alberta, you can head all the way to the mouth of the Mackenzie River," she says. "You can really think global."

While a few people are indeed currently hiking, paddling, and cycling their way across the entire nation, for most Canadians and visitors, the impact will be much more local.

Trenton Steeltown Park. Photo by The Great Trail, used with permission.

Even Pringle, who has visited many, many pieces of the 15,000-mile trail, has a nearby slice she considers her own.

"My favorite part is along the Niagara River. That's my own personal piece of trail. I walk my labs there, I walk my granddaughter there."

The Great Trail is on track to be fully connected by the fall of 2017, but that doesn't mean the work is over.

Banff Legacy Trail. Photo by Betty Anne Graves, used with permission.

Once all the connections are made, Pringle says the team will continue to renovate and beautify portions of the trail for a long time to come.

In the meantime, Pringle and other members of the Trans Canada Trail Foundation consider this project to be one of the most meaningful parts of their legacies.

"I'm now 63, and this is something I left behind of value," she says. "It's the ultimate gift to Canadians from Canadians."

Canadians who, no matter the distance or cultural differences between them, have always been connected to one another by a love for their country. The Great Trail is simply a wonderful reminder.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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