Melissa Bain isn’t one to back down from a challenge. In fact, it’s more her style to embrace it.
When she came to a crossroads in her life at age 29, it was decision time: either continue in her current position with the non-profit Soles 4 Souls organization or move forward with her plans to accept an international travel position, which had been a dream of hers and her husband Heath.
The couple had served two years together on staff with Soles 4 Souls, coordinating shoe drives and delivering them to impoverished areas around the country. Even before they were married, the two traveled to Haiti in 2010 as Soles 4 Souls volunteers. Life took off quickly after that. They came back to the Shoals, got married and spent the next 16 months on the road, living in their Soles 4 Souls R.V. which was based in McFarland Park.
The couple was on the fast track with the organization, establishing a name for themselves as go-getters who had a passion for people and their work. They were negotiating the new position as International Travel managers whereby they would coordinate several overseas trips a year to deliver shoes, and hope, primarily throughout Central and South America.
Then, last July, tragedy struck while the couple was working in Sherman, Texas. Heath, 30, suffered a fatal aortic aneurism.
“I thought about what I was going to do for a while,” Bain said. “I initially took the attitude that I couldn’t do the international travel thing without my husband. That was our dream, mine and his. Our plan. It’s a scary thought when you’ve traveled with your husband and depended on him for nearly two years, then you’re suddenly all by yourself.”
But Heath’s words kept replaying in her mind: “Do one thing every day that scares you.” It had become their motto as a couple.
For Bain, taking on the new position — that is if the organization’s offer still stood — was a little scary.
Soon, she was named Travel 4 Souls manager of group travel, which means Bain recruits groups of volunteers to go abroad carrying out the Soles 4 Souls mission.
Her first trip is a five-day stay in Guatemala March 23-27. She will accompany a group of 20 volunteers from the Shoals to a Guatemalan village and will partner with missionaries Josh and Jessica Byrd, (who are also from the Shoals) to provide shoes there.