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Gifts for the Homeless, Inc.
Department Number 0046
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Archived Banding Together Articles
Archived Clothing Drive Articles

Leadership Council

The GFTH Leadership Council is comprised of individuals who consistently demonstrate a dedicated interest in supporting GFTH by volunteering their time to assist GFTH in its various activities, including but not limited to the Used Clothing Drive and Banding Together.  Members of the Leadership council are expected to attend all GFTH events and are welcome to attend Board meetings unless otherwise specified by the President.  Council Members also actively serve on at least one of the GFTH committees.  The GFTH Board has oversight over the Leadership Council.  Members of the Leadership Council are:

William Barrett

Wbarrett@gfth.org

Melinda Cooperman

mcooperman@gfth.org

Melinda also runs the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project based at Washington College of Law and is a member of the adjunct faculty.

•  How long have you been on the leadership council?  Which events have you participated in so far and where would you like to see it go in the future?

I’ve been on the leadership council since the beginning of 2016. I participated in the clothing drive of 2015 and helped out with Banding Together this year. I think if we focus on reaching out to more firms for the clothing drive, we can help grow participation for Banding Together also. I have a special interest in bringing together members of the legal and homeless communities in non-hierarchical ways that promote friendships.

•   What inspired you to start volunteering in aiding the local homeless?

I’ve worked with the homeless community in one way or another for about 15 years. After college I worked in a homeless shelter out in San Francisco and ran a family education program. I was really inspired and moved by all the wonderful people I met so I continued to volunteer with the community in one way or another since then.

In addition to volunteering with GFTH, I volunteer regularly with Back on My Feet, an organization that uses the teamwork and motivation found within the running community to help folks get back on their feet. I help lead the team that runs from Clean and Sober Streets. 5:45 AM Monday, Wednesday, Friday—come join us!

•   What is your favorite thing so far about the experience?

Meeting all of the wonderful people, finding hilarious pieces of donated clothing for the Wall of Shame, and volunteering alongside my Back on My Feet friends at the clothing drive.

•  What do you do in your spare time?  Name your favorite activity outside of GFTH.

I’m incredibly active and love anything outdoors. I run regularly, hike, and paddle board. I’m training for my first SUP race. Above all though, my favorite activity is roller blading. For me, it’s not coming back…it never left!

I also enjoy eating shellfish, ice cream, grilling, and listening to live music outdoors.

•   What is your life motto?

Live deeply. “True freedom is being without anxiety about imperfection.” – Seng-tsan

•    Name something fun/quirky about you or a hero of yours!

I spent a good chunk of my childhood in Hawaii and then moved to New York where my family had three pet sheep.

When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador, I taught a group of women to make pizza and chocolate chip cookies in an earthen oven. And we didn’t burn them!  

Peggy Femenella 

Pfemenella@gfth.org

Peggy

•  How long have you been on the leadership council?  Which events have you participated in so far and where would you like to see it go in the future?

I’ve been on the Leadership Council since September 2014.  Prior to joining the Leadership Council, I was on the GFTH Board for 14 years and was the VP of Used Clothing from 2005-2007.  Prior to joining the Board, I was a volunteer at the used clothing drive and knew that I wanted to be more involved with such an amazing organization.

•   What inspired you to start volunteering in aiding the local homeless?

My personal experiences.  I have known people that have lost their jobs and struggled to make ends meet.  No one is immune from falling on hard times and at the very least I can help make it a little easier.

•   What is your favorite thing so far about the experience?

Calling the shelters for the annual used clothing drive and asking them for their wish list.  They are so overwhelmed and thankful for the clothes and household items that we deliver.  It makes me realize how lucky I am and how much small gestures, such as donating gently used items, can make such a difference.

•  What do you do in your spare time?  Name your favorite activity outside of GFTH.

I enjoy playing with my kids and watching them grow up.  I love seeing the world through their eyes.

•   What is your life motto?

Don’t sweat the small things. Focus on everything good in your life.

•    Name something fun/quirky about you or a hero of yours!

Halloween is my favorite holiday and I tend to go overboard with family costumes.

Adrianne Goins

Agoins@velaw.com

Charles Johnson

CJohnson@gfth.org

Charlie

Charlie is a Partner with Akin Gump in Washington, DC.

•  How long have you been on the leadership council?  Which events have you participated in so far and where would you like to see it go in the future?

GFTH invited me to join the Leadership Council in 2015, so I have yet to participate in any events.  I have been most active in the past with coordinating Akin Gump’s donations for the annual clothing drive, and I have raised my hand to help develop and maintain contacts with law firms, agencies and other GFTH constituent organizations, and to communicate/coordinate with them leading up to the drive.

•  What inspired you to start volunteering in aiding the local homeless? What is your favorite thing so far about the experience?

A colleague invited me to participate in the Akin Gump clothing drive, then handed over coordinating duties when she left the firm – 10 years ago.  My favorite thing about the experience is the energy, enthusiasm and spirit of giving that the annual drive prompts at the firm, in terms of the seemingly increasing volume of clothing and funds donated each year, and the interest throughout the firm in helping sort and deliver the donations.

•  What do you do in your spare time?  Name your favorite activity outside of GFTH.

I try to spend as much of my spare time as possible with my kids, which is my favorite activity above all others.  We share a love of sports, the beach and mountains, and the summer camp referenced in my next response.

•  What is your life motto?

I have been a Trustee for the better part of the last two decades of the summer camp – Camp Dudley – that I attended as a boy and as a member of the Leadership team throughout my college years.  Camp Dudley’s motto – and mine – is The Other Fellow First.  Words to live by!

•  Name something fun/quirky about you or a hero of yours!

I love reading to my kids, and even at 14 and 12, they still seem interested.  We’re now reading To Kill a Mockingbird.  Our collective favorite was the Harry Potter series, I’m convinced because of the accents I created for each character.  Perhaps the tremendous writing/stories played a part too.

Justin Loffredo

JLoffredo@gfth.org

Justin

Justin is an Associate at the Finnegan law firm in Washington, D.C.

•   How long have you been on the leadership council?

I’ve been on the Leadership Council since 2015.

•   Which events have you participated in so far and where would you like to see it go in the future? 

I have helped sort clothing at GFTH’s clothing drive and worked at the annual Banding Together fundraising event.  I hope to see a continuing increase in the number of people and organizations at both the clothing drive and banding together.  There is talk of implementing a third GFTH event in the near future, which is exciting.

•   What inspired you to start volunteering in aiding the local homeless?

Unfortunately the Washington, DC area still has one of the highest homeless populations in the United States, and the winters here can get surprisingly cold. I discovered GFTH through my employer, and my experience at the 2013 clothing drive inspired me to get more involved in trying to help our local homeless.

•   What is your favorite thing so far about the experience?

I like participating in GFTH events and seeing the fantastic efforts and generosity of our local community.  It’s particularly great knowing that these efforts have proved effective in providing clothes to many of the area’s homeless.

•   What do you do in your spare time? Name your favorite activity outside of GFTH.

I spend time with my wife and friends, play music and tennis, snowboard whenever possible, and visit my family in New England and Florida.  I can also make decent cornbread.

•   What is your life motto?

You can observe a lot by watching. Yogi Berra.

•   Name something fun/quirky about you or a hero of yours!

I’m SCUBA certified and jumped out of a plane once as a ‘birthday gift’ from my wife.  I also made an appearance on the late 90s Nickelodeon game show ‘Figure It Out.

 

Lauren Mott

lmott@gfth.org

Lauren pic

Lauren is a college student in New York.

• How long have you been on the leadership council? Which events have you participated in so far and where would you like to see it go in the future?

I have participated in GFTH clothing drives since I was a little three year old.  I started helping out at Banding Together in 2012. I was asked to join the Leadership Council in 2013.

• What inspired you to start volunteering in aiding the local homeless?  What is your favorite thing so far about the experience?

I started volunteering with GFTH at a very young age and my enthusiasm has never wavered.  I was thrilled to try to push the big carts with donated clothing at the used clothing drive to sorted piles for delivery.  Over the years, I have developed a deeper interest and pursued other responsibilities.  I help update GFTH’s Facebook and Twitter pages and attend calls with GFTH board members.  My head is usually in the books as a Cornell student, but I love the opportunity I have with GFTH to step outside of my bubble and focus my energy on attending to other people’s needs.  Sometimes you’ll find me searching through donated clothing to collect matching suits for homeless men or women for job interviews.  Other times, you’ll find me delivering clothing to shelters that I’ve contacted over consecutive years in my dad’s beat-up car.  You’re also likely to find me using my height to stand on an unsteady chair and adjust a Banding Together banner before the big event.  It doesn’t matter what the task is – I love every second!

GFTH is also family to me.  My whole family has participated ever since I can remember.  Every time I return for an event from college, I see friendly faces of people who have watched me grow up over the years.

• What do you do in your spare time? Name your favorite activity outside of GFTH.

When I’m not volunteering with GFTH or writing essays for school, I like to explore new places and participate in field research on invasive species.

 

Joshua Riley

JRiley@gfth.org

Josh

Josh is Counsel at Boies, Schiller, and Flexner, LLP

•  How long have you been on the leadership council?  Which events have you participated in so far and where would you like to see it go in the future?

I’ve been on the Leadership Council since 2015.  I joined after organizing a clothing drive at my firm in 2014.

•  What is your favorite thing so far about the experience?

GFTH is unique because it provides tangible results to people in need – and it does so on an all-volunteer basis.  I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of that and to learn from the very generous volunteers who have been doing this for some time.  (It’s also nice to see a bunch of lawyers actually work well together!)

•  What do you do in your spare time? Name your favorite activity outside of GFTH.

Cheering on the Nationals!

•  What is your life motto?

Work hard and be nice to people.

•  Name something fun/quirky about you or a hero of yours!

I spent three years as Sen. Al Franken’s General Counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which was incredibly rewarding – and a lot of fun.

Jennifer Zucker

jzucker@gfth.org