Shoe Repair Industry
Rallies to Support Springarn High School
President Blase Knabl (Left) and President Don Rinaldi
(right) with Washington, DC Councilman Tommy Wells at
Springarn High School.
Members of the Shoe Service Institute of America (SSIA)
arranged a benefit for the shoe repair program at Springarn High
School in Washington, DC. SSIA members donated
machinery and products to the program and Councilman Tommy Wells
from the District of Columbia
recognized the program's director, John "Peter Bug" Matthews.
as "Peter Bug" because of an old Volkswagen Beetle he drove
years ago, is a fifth-generation Washingtonian who has been
training young people in shoe repair since 1977. His students
commit to learning a trade, keeping their grades up and
performing public service. In return, they get training to help
them earn a living. Last year, 10 graduates of Peter Bug's
program found employment in the shoe repair industry.
"Shoe repair is
a trade that dates back for centuries and faces many challenges
today," says SSIA President Don Rinaldi. "One significant
challenge is a shortage of training programs to bring young
people into our industry. Thus we want to help the program at
Springarn High School in any way we can."
educators, Matthews' biggest obstacle is a small budget. His
materials are old and his machinery is broken down. Students get
classroom experience but need more hands-on training. To solve
this problem, SSIA members donated $10,000 worth of
machinery and thousands more in products used in the process of
repairing shoes. Companies that donated were:
Rivergate Shoe Repair
Fast Feet Shoe Repair
DC Leather & Findings
Miami Leather Company
Angelus Shoe Polish Co.
Lincoln Shoe Polish Company
Moneysworth & Best
Petronio Shoe Products
Tauer & Johnson
Shoe Systems Plus
"We look at it
as an investment in our future," says SSIA Vice President Blase
Knabl of Shoe Systems Plus, who donated machinery.
"More young people learning the shoe repair trade means more
business for everyone in the industry."
In addition to
training shoe repairers, Matthews has a long history of
community service. He worked alongside his college friend
Carroll "Skeezie" Payne helping kids at Potomac Gardens and at
Tyler. As part of the Roving Leaders Program, they sought to
engage at-risk youth in constructive activities. He also has
been involved in youth sports programs. The 400 block of 13th
St. SE in the nation's capital became Peter Bug Matthews Way in
2010 to honor his community service.
Bug" Matthews unveils the new machines at Springarn High
President Don Rinaldi addresses the gathering. The
students seated around the table are all learning shoe
Most of the
SSIA contingent at Springarn High School. Pictured left
to right are Jonathan Schaffer, Maria Verbruggen, Don
Rinaldi, Larry Davis and Sandra Verbruggen. Not pictured
are Blase and Toni Knabl..