Josie's Journey from TOMS to Giveback Homes

I am walking down an alleyway in Santa Monica barefoot. No big deal, I am just headed to an interview. It was TOMS One Day Without Shoes - April 5th, 2011. It’s starting to make a bit more sense right, the whole shoeless thing. When you believe in something, you support it. Lucky for me I was interviewing to work for the company that started the movement, and my interviewers were barefoot too.

I worked at TOMS for nearly five years and after two Giving Trips that filled my heart and fed my soul I knew that when I traveled down a different path giving would be my constant.

My first year at TOMS was a whirlwind. We celebrated the company’s 5th birthday, launched its 2nd One for One, eyewear, which gave back sight saving services. Our founder Blake Mycoskie even released a book “Start Something That Matters”, and business boomed exponentially. At TOMS when you hit your 365-day mark you get invited on a Giving Trip and I was ready to get into the field!


I traveled to El Salvador with TOMS and Save the Children to help give out shoes. Six years later I can close my eyes (sans virtual reality) and I am transported right back. From the first school we went to our giving partner and their team in El Salvador beyond impressed me. Not only did they utilize TOMS shoes to improve health and help children meet the dress code requirements to attend school, but also to paint a picture for the children how vital hygiene, diet, and school attendance are for a successful future. We even had student leaders at one school take their learning’s home to educate their families so that all generations could grow forward together.

In a week, we had learned so much about how our work stateside made a true difference and saw all the smiling faces to prove it. I felt so full of inspiration and determination to get back to TOMS and keep doing my part to help our growing company so we could give more.

You think that TOMS would have gotten all the good karma it needed from sending all employees after their first year, but fast-forward two years and there I was receiving the email that said it was my time again. They wanted me to leave in two weeks, i.e. tomorrow, since I had just taken on a new role in a new department. Our Giving Trip Manager told me “the trip you go on is the one you are supposed to be on, and this is the one you need to go on Josie”.

That week in Honduras changed my life. I was even more committed to TOMS and the movement than ever before and it shaped the way I interact and see the world today.

Perfection in my eyes is Hogar de Niños Enmanuel and its Voluntary Executive Director Vivian Chahin. Their distribution team is made up of once at-risk children who now work alongside community volunteers to make a positive impact in rural and urban areas of Honduras. This team, aptly named Caminando Con Amor (“Walking with Love”) was the most incredible display of giving I had ever seen. As a giving veteran, I knew the logistical ropes of these trips, but to see these once at-risk children so full of pride and joy to help others less fortunate than them was very moving. Vivian, her team, and all the children at Hogar embody one of my favorite Maya Angelou quotes – “If you get, give. If you learn, teach”. Even though I was double the age of most of these children, they taught me so much.


I knew I had to continue giving. I came back to TOMS ready to do work and keep spreading the mission. As the next few months passed by I realized I was still 100% invested in giving, so much so that I couldn’t sit behind a desk anymore. I wanted to be out helping people every day and teaching them how easy it is to give.

Blake Mycoskie always encouraged TOMS alumni to create their own giving paths like his book was titled, “Start Something That Matters”. To me, the ability to help people find a home wasn’t brand new, but it created an opportunity. As a Realtor for Marvin Gardens I educate, facilitate, and make dreams come true and I get to teach and inspire through Giveback Homes.

Blake Andrews and Caroline Pinal were down that alleyway in Santa Monica barefoot when I first joined TOMS and I knew as the founders of Giveback Homes they would be the ones who I could partner with to continue giving once I made the jump into Real Estate. With every transaction, but more importantly every connection I make I share the story of how Giveback Homes started and how the opportunity to be a part of social change is always present. Giving will always by my constant and I am thrilled to teach my clients so it can be their constant as well.