The Good Sheppard is Healing Our Heroes’ Homes

Wounded Marines House gets a fix up

 “Seldom do we hear stories of people who give.  We always hear stories about people who take.  Meet the good Sheppard and learn something.” 

by Ken Smith


 I got an email from someone who knew someone who knew something that they thought might be important to me.  “You wantta hear a story about how a combat wounded, disabled Marine in California had repairs done to his house by a group of 50 college students he asked?”    Sure I said, what’s the story?   Read the email I am about to send to you.

50 San Diego Students Volunteer 24 Hours of Labor to Renovate the Home of Purple Heart Marine Veteran for Embrace H3 Nonprofit Program on December 10th Over $30,000 worth of labor and donated or purchased materials went into the restoration of disabled Marine Sgt. Jason Swofford’s Oceanside home

Wounded Marines House gets a fix up

A total of 50 San Diego College students and recent graduates were led by various volunteer contractors who devoted  hours of labor to restore the home of disabled Purple Heart recipient Marine Veteran, Sgt. Jason Swofford on Saturday, December 10th, 2011. The ongoing mission was part of the San Diego nonprofit, Embrace Healing Our Heroes’ Homes (H3) program. Sgt. Swofford no longer has full usage of his right arm and suffers from mental trauma as a result of an explosion while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.

Over $30,000 worth of labor, donated materials/supplies and purchased materials/supplies went towards the restoration, resulting in a better quality of life for the disabled marine veteran. Sgt. Swofford’s house now features retrofit/green windows, a remodeled kitchen with marble countertops, garbage disposal and cast iron sink, tile backsplash, new cabinets with new pantry for easier access for Sgt. Swofford, along with marble tile flooring in both bathrooms, a completely remodeled shower in the master bedroom with ADA railings, modern plumbing, and functioning electrical outlets. The exterior of the house is newly landscaped; featuring new rain gutters installed and painted eaves.

Back yard gets some help too

“I can’t begin to tell you how honored we are to serve Sergeant Swofford and his family,” said H3 Founder, Sean Sheppard ( “To see such a diverse group of people come together for the purpose of helping a true American Hero is what Healing Our Heroes’ Homes is all about. It’s what this country is all about.”

Alliance Residential Development (, an Arizona-based real estate development company, played a major role in the event, mobilizing all volunteer contractors. “It was an awesome experience for everyone involved,” said Alliance Senior Project Manager, Jim Frager. “ I can’t find a better purpose than giving back to our community and military veterans.” Other key participants of the Embrace H3 program include: Triumph Tile, Hajoca Corporation (Plumbing), Tone Framing, Scott Heyden Landscape and Grill Daddy BBQ. Funding provided by The Leichtag Family Foundation, Grainger Foundation and Sempra Energy Foundation.

Wounded Marine gets a new Kitchen ceiling

With key investors coming to the table, Embrace plans to restore at least 24 homes in Southern California and Arizona in 2012. With a goal to restore the homes of low-income, disabled veteran homeowners, H3 falls in line with Embrace’s mission to mobilize college student volunteers of different background and ethnicities to serve less fortunate members of civilian and veteran communities. Efforts like H3 demonstrate that people can work together in harmony on a regular basis, despite our differences, for a common cause.

For more information about Embrace, the H3 Program and how you can get involved, visit

For more information on Embrace Founder Sean Sheppard,
Visit www.TheGoodSheppard.TV




Footwear News April 16, 2007 | Niemi, Wayne Byline: WAYNE NIEMI LOS ANGELES – It’s the industry’s biggest growth story.

In just a few short years, online footwear retailing has gone from a risky experiment to a multibillion-dollar business with massive potential. here piperlime coupon code

“[Sales are] amazingly hot right now. [Footwear is] the one [online] category that has continued to increase numbers,” said Scott Savits, CEO of “That’s for a category that a lot of people didn’t think would translate online.” In 2006, sales of footwear online grew to $2.9 billion, compared with just $954 million in 2002, according to a study of online retailing released by Forrester Research. And by 2010, the study predicts that revenues are projected to reach a whopping $5.2 billion.

That hasn’t gone unnoticed by a number of corporate giants looking for new growth opportunities.

Last year, Gap Inc.-backed entered the fray, while made its debut in January. These sites find an increasingly crowded online marketplace, joining established players like, and

And at least for now, most Internet players believe there is ample room for newcomers in the booming market, primarily because there are so many untapped consumers.

“If you surveyed 100 random people on the street, the vast majority haven’t purchased online,” said Tony Hsieh, CEO of, which is on track to exceed $800 million in sales this year. “So there is a huge market that we still haven’t touched.” Still, finding success online isn’t easy.

Top-notch customer service, the right product mix and a sound operational model are essential, execs said.

“Just because there are a few of us doing millions of dollars in footwear sales doesn’t mean that just anybody can open up a site and do well,” Savits said.

A More Crowded Market Execs from established online sites acknowledged that there is more competition than ever before, but they aren’t convinced that all newcomers have staying power.

“I believe anybody with fairly deep pockets believes there is profit to be made with online shopping with shoes,” said Gary Weiner, VP of footwear brands for, which operates footwear site “I think we’ll see a lot of people come in and go away, but it’s going to be a lot more crowded.” Savits said his site has increased sales 5 percent to 10 percent month over month for seven years running. That kind of bottom-line performance was an invitation for many companies looking to spur sales growth.

“When people see that, you get a whole lot of people saying, ‘If they can do it, I can, too,'” Savits said.

While’s Hsieh said he rarely studies the competition, he did acknowledge the increasingly congested online retail market. “There are definitely a lot of players selling online,” he said. “We don’t see that slowing down anytime soon.” Indeed, SVP and GM Catherine Beaudoin said Gap liked the growth potential for online footwear sales, which is outpacing apparel. “One of the reasons that we were drawn to this opportunity was that the online shoe industry is growing rapidly, and much more rapidly than the footwear industry overall,” she said. “That’s why we felt comfortable that if we offered something that didn’t exist, we would do very well.” To differentiate itself from the online crowd, Piperlime aims to present an edited product assortment with specific trend recommendations from stylists like Rachel Zoe.

Beaudoin didn’t disclose sales figures, but said consumer response have been “very strong” and that has sold through a wide assortment of styles. Over the next few months, she said, the site will add 35 to 40 new brand names to its product offering.

While the opportunities for online retailers are clear, it’s also getting more expensive to stay competitive.

As sites like Zappos and Endless made free overnight shipping an industry standard, others have been forced to follow suit. “No other [online retailers] are under the pressure to do things like free shipping, but that’s the new standard in [footwear],”said Barbara Thornton, president of

Thornton added that site promotion is becoming more costly. “Google has driven up the price [for your name] to appear … when consumers look up a certain key word,” she said. see here piperlime coupon code

Free returns, clearing inventory of dated merchandise, 365-day return policies and free overnight shipping definitely make online retailing more difficult, Weiner said.

“These are all attractive ideas that eat into margins,” he said. “Who knows? It could be the Achilles heel [of selling footwear online], but it’s part of the business today.” Site navigation and keeping up with the latest online technologies also require continual funding. “We invested millions of dollars in site enhancements and usability,” Savits said. “That has very much been key to us. If we get lazy, that’s when the numbers would start to be disappointing.” Untapped Consumers Even with competitive factors at play, Internet footwear retailers have numbers working on their side.

“I don’t believe that 20 percent or even 10 percent [of consumers] are buying shoes online right now,” said eBags’ Weiner.

Hsieh said that his future customers would likely come from rural areas. “We have customers who say their nearest shoe store is an hour away, and when they get there, it’s a small selection,” he said. “I think a lot more of those people will come to us when they realize how easy it is to buy shoes online.” The age of those shoppers could range from 18 to 80, Hsieh said. However, the company won’t reach out to them directly. “Instead of spending money on marketing, we put that money into our customer service and free shipping, things to improve the experience.” Other online retailers are targeting a more specific niche customer.

Thornton said her company’s edge is its ability to offer difficult-to-find sizes. “We see people who couldn’t find shoes anywhere because they couldn’t find their size,” she said. “We have the styles and the sizes that really appeal to our customers.” According to Beaudoin, Piperlime hopes to attract urban, fashion-oriented women, men and kids by increasing the number of labels it carries, and by offering buying advice and fashion tips. “When customers come to us, they aren’t really buying basics,” she said. “They are buying fashion.” For, future customers will look very similar to its existing customer base of 25- to 40-year-old professionals. “We’re doing an extremely good job of homing in on that market and we’ll do it even better,” said Savits.

Going forward, Beaudoin believes that the online market will stratify and more closely resemble the offline retail world, and new customers will shop according to their needs and budget. “I see it becoming more stratified and segmented with value players, specialty players and boutiques,” she said.

Bricks Versus Clicks: How the Rise of Online Shopping Is Impacting Traditional Stores Brick-and-mortar footwear retailers had mixed reactions about online sales’ impact on their businesses.

At The Walking Co., CEO Andrew Feshbach said the No. 1 threat to the comfort industry is Internet-only businesses. “It basically eliminates the concept of a specialty store niche,” he said. “Now nobody goes out and buys shoes on the Internet unless they have already become comfortable with the brand, so the only business that they are taking is our reorder business or our repeat customer business, and that is not right.” Craig Blattberg, owner of New York-based Diane B., said he was sure that online sites were impacting sales, but it was difficult to quantify how much. “They cut into everyone’s business,” he said. “Customers order shoes online all the time.” Edna Galo, owner of New York-based Galo Shoes, agreed. “Mothers can easily go online and then return shoes if they don’t like them. They can also come into the store and look or be fitted and then go back home and buy online to try to find better deals.” CEO Tony Hsieh, however, said the idea that shoes are cheaper online is a misconception, and that service, not price, is what drives people to his site. “Most items on our site are not priced lower than brick-and-mortar stores – some might even be more expensive,” he said. “Whether online or brick-and-mortar, anyone who competes on price alone is not going to have loyalty for long if they aren’t always the lowest.” Eric Shoes owner Eric Mudick is confident that the boutique shopping experience will keep customers coming into his store. “I know that our customers like it better when they can see, touch and feel the shoe. They want the personal experience and service.” Mudick is backed up by a survey conducted by the consulting firm Accenture, which found that the majority of consumers use the Internet to research their purchases, but buy at a local store. According to the report, 67 percent of respondents said that they prefer to shop in physical stores, while 69 percent said they use the Internet to research features.

“Instead of replacing brick-and-mortar stores, the Internet is an extension of consumers’ in-store shopping experience, providing a resource to research product and price,” Jeff Smith, global managing director of Accenture’s retail practice, wrote in the report.


Caption(s): launched in 1999, while entered the online market last year.

Niemi, Wayne


We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion.

About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT.
Previous articleNo More Business As Usual With USA
Next articleVeteran Rises From Homelessness To a Job With Veterans Affairs
For more than twenty-five years Ken Smith has been a leading advocate for veterans. A combat Vietnam veteran, Ken served during 1971-72 as a paramedic and an infantry squad leader with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry, in the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. After his discharge, Ken continued his work as a paramedic in New England. On the streets of Boston he encountered growing numbers of homeless Vietnam veterans, and he became determined to both assist them and draw attention to their plight. In 1989, Ken founded the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans, located in a former VA hospital at 17 Court Street in downtown Boston. One of the first facilities designed for homeless veterans and now a national model, the shelter has served over 35,000 of America’s veterans who, for whatever reason, find themselves living on the streets. In 1992 Ken was awarded Point of Light #142 by President George H. W. Bush, and later that same year received the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award, considered the “Oscar” for American veterans. As one of America’s foremost veterans service organizations, AMVETS (or American Veterans) has a proud history of assisting veterans and sponsoring numerous programs that serve our country and its citizens. Ken was awarded this honor along with Peter Coors, with whom he still maintains a personal friendship. Over the years Ken has appeared on many national media programs including Good Morning America, Prime Time Live, ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN, 60 Minutes, and The Geraldo Show. He has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and numerous international newspapers, magazines, and websites. In 1992, Ken had the distinction of addressing both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as a keynote speaker on the subject of veterans. Ken recently left his last assignment with the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, where he was the chief technology architect of the Veteran’s Vocational Technical Institute, Purple Heart Car Donation program, Purple Heart Call Center, Purple Heart Radio, Purple Heart Tech Support, Purple Heart Services, and over thirty new Purple Heart websites. Ken Smith provided the vision and has overseen the implementation of innovative, virtual, work-at-home training programs for veterans with combat disabilities. Ken has designed, upgraded, and supervised the integration and installation of Purple Heart Service Foundations computer and telephony systems, upgrading features from legacy POTS phones to SIP-trunked communications systems including establishing new VPN networks for teams of remote virtual employees. An adventure sports enthusiast, Ken enjoys extreme skiing, competitive sailing, flying, and travel. He has traveled extensively worldwide, delivering his positive message to the veterans of other countries that a paraplegic veteran of the United States suffers the same as a paraplegic veteran of India; that an amputee veteran of Nepal suffers as much as an amputee veteran of France. Ken’s mentor was Harold Russell, the two-time Academy Award winner who starred in the 1946 film Best Years of Our Lives. A World War II veteran, on D-Day, June 6th, 1944, Harold lost both of his hands. This ghastly misfortune did not stop him, and he went on to become the chairman of the President’s Committee for People with Disabilities. For over fifty years he served US presidents from Truman to Clinton. Ken was humbled and grateful when Harold agreed to serve as the best man at Ken’s wedding. Ken has been instrumental in the planning stages for the Veterans Workshop, a new nationwide veterans’ advocacy group building a new “Veterans Hotline, and the development of special programs for those who have lost their sight or their hearing, or who have suffered spinal cord injury, as a result of their military experience. The Veterans Workshop provides a forum where new technology and advancements in the fields of prosthetic and orthotic solutions, many designed by Ken, are shared along with virtual training and employment programs. A 1970 graduate of De La Salle Academy in Newport, Rhode Island, for the past twenty-five years Ken has continued his education with extensive college courses in computer technology and related social service fields. He resides in his native state of Rhode Island with his wife and children.