For more than 30 years, our generous supporters have enabled Heart & Soul to serve as a bridge to the community, helping chosen programs direct service to our neighbors and amplifying the efforts of dedicated and hardworking volunteers.
Inspired by Forrest Church, members of the All Souls congregation established the Heart & Soul Auction in 1988 to support outreach programs central to the church’s mission and concerns. Michele Jawin, Francesca Thompson and Stephen Lash were among the early leaders. In 1996, the organization was incorporated as a separate 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, Heart & Soul Charitable Fund, that was insulated from the vagaries of the church’s operating budget and could call upon the generosity not just of All Souls members but also on personal, corporate and foundation contributions that would not or could not be made directly to the church.
At its founding, the principal focus of Heart & Soul was to ensure support for the meal programs, Monday Night Hospitality and Friday Soup Kitchen, that today serve over 30,000 meals a year to our neighbors in need. Over the years, Heart & Soul has funded dozens of other community-based programs, including Girl Scout troops in East Harlem, the Navigators USA, the New Amsterdam Boys and Girls Choir, the New York Common Pantry, Musica Viva NY’s community outreach program and Outreach Information Services, which provides needed social workers to meal-program guests.
For its first quarter century, Heart & Soul raised money principally through its annual gala auction. Lavish travel packages and other donated items brought in substantial bids. Attendees also raised their paddles to pledge direct donations to the supported programs while generous benefactor committees generally underwrote the cost of the events. Although the auctions have been scaled back in recent years, we are able to continue funding programs that mean so much to our congregation through the generosity of contributors to the annual Holiday Appeal and other events including a 2019 Spring Fling.
In 2009, James and Kerianne Flynn inaugurated the Forrest Church Award for humanitarian service under Heart & Soul’s auspices. Forrest, battling cancer, lived long enough to present the first award to former President Bill Clinton.
Over the years, Heart & Soul has benefited from the talents and dedication of many church members who served on its board and as event organizers. Elizabeth Fairfax Brown, as Executive Director, was instrumental in organizing the auctions and other events. Bill Bechman served as President and guiding light of Heart & Soul for fourteen years.
Heart & Soul is at present an all-volunteer group without paid staff under the leadership of Jeffrey Friedlander, President, and Tom Blum, Treasurer. Current board members include Amy Legge, Robin Bossert, Peter Reikes, Marilynn Scott Murphy, Tara McNamara, Rachel Ziemba and Carole Weiss.