In the recent weeks following Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma we have watched the citizens of Houston as they struggle with the most basic of needs, food, water, shelter but one thing we often forget about when discussing basic needs is toiletries. Something as simple as a toothbrush, deodorant or a bar of soap and more importantly the huge effect that not having these basic essentials has on our self-esteem and life.
I recently had a fantastic conversation with a remarkable man named Jeff Feingold, who identified this need in 2010. An unlikely nonprofit founder, with an MBA from Harvard business school and over 20 years working as a portfolio manager at Fidelity, yet his huge heart and overwhelming gratitude inspired the nonprofit, Hope and Comfort in 2010. Their mission is to improve the health and self-esteem of school age children and young adults in the Boston area. His story is one of gratitude, inspiration and hope….
Charity Matters: What was the moment you knew you needed to start a nonprofit?
Jeff Feingold: It started in 2010 when my daughter was having a birthday party, and my wife and I decided she didn’t need anything but so many other children did. We asked people to bring items needed by a local nonprofit. We were overwhelmed by the toys, toiletries and clothes that friends brought to donate. In delivering these items, I met a social worker who shared with me a statistic that 58% of low-income families are unable to buy personal care items. She said, if you don’t have a bar soap it is hard to go forward.
We knew then that we needed to do more and began sourcing toiletries out of our garage. In 2011, we applied for our nonprofit status for Hope and Comfort.
Charity Matters: You have a full-time job and run a nonprofit what fuels you to keep doing this work?
Jeff Feingold: I think the realization that life is short and fragile and there is so much need. We have been blessed but there are so many kids who are not. Children who do not go to school because of their hygiene, that are afraid to smile because they haven’t brushed their teeth, students being bullied because their families can’t afford soap or shampoo, who are refusing to go to school. Knowing that we are able to bring resources together to change this for so many kids is what keeps us going. That and the need seems to keep growing.
Charity Matters: When do you know that you have made a difference?
Jeff Feingold: I know we have made a difference when we hear that children are going back to school, when they send us notes saying that they are smiling again. I know that we have been able to thrive in a crowded nonprofit landscape by partnering with food pantries, human services, children’s organizations and bringing everyone together in partnerships creating a distribution network to get these toiletries to those who need them.
We have made a difference in inspiring hundreds of volunteers, young families and young children, including our own on teaching them how to give and make a difference.
Charity Matters: Tell us what success you have had? What has your impact been?
Jeff Feingold: In May 2010 we started with a donating a few items from our daughters birthday party and within the first year of working from our garage we distributed over 1,000 toiletries. By 2014 we partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs and Mass General Hospital to provide products and hygiene lessons, distributing over 50,000 toiletries. Today, only seven years later we have distributed over 375,000 toiletries to close to twenty thousand children in need.
As Jeff said, Hope and Comfort has gone from soap to hope…..a shinning example of what love and gratitude can do!
Sharing is caring, if you feel moved or inspired, please inspire another…
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