Everyone has a story to tell. What’s yours? Irene Stemler, author of Heroic Acts in Humble Shoes: America’s Nurses Tell Their Stories, has been collecting well-worn nursing shoes and the stories behind them in response to this country’s impending nursing shortage. Her work sits on the cutting edge of health care reform, exploring what nurses endure as they battle to provide quality health care. The exhibition became the inspiration for the book – a diverse collection of stories that celebrates and honors nurses from all backgrounds and areas of expertise.
Nearly two years after she began collecting nurses’ shoes and their stories, she stumbled across a family story that gave greater meaning to her work.  She was told that her grandfather, a man she had never met and who died in WWII, was a shoemaker.  She realized then that a pair of worn nurses' shoes was the perfect symbol for a profession that needed mending…and that a shoemaker’s granddaughter might be the ideal person to take up the cause.