Jelani F.

Jelani Freeman

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

I work as an attorney and have lived in the DC area for over a decade. I am a graduate of American University and Howard University School of Law. My other volunteer activities include being a Board of Trustee for a couple of local organizations and a Commission member for a DC government commission.

Why did you get involved originally, what made you want to volunteer and why Martha’s Table?

When I first moved to DC, I worked for Serve DC in the Mayor’s office where I worked to promote and bolster youth volunteerism and I always heard nothing but praise from volunteers about Martha’s Table. Therefore, a couple years ago, when I moved close to Martha’s Table and wanted a more hands-on volunteer experience, it made perfect sense to contact the organization. More personally, I wanted to work with McKenna’s Wagon helping to feed the community because as a child I had once enjoyed similar programs when my family was unable to secure enough food from month to month. Also, growing up, I had many mentors and other adults in my life that helped, encouraged and guide me to where I am now and all they have ever asked from me in return was to one day use my blessings to be a blessing to others. Therefore, every day that I volunteer, it is to honor those that have and continue to make a huge impact in my life.

Is there a moment that stands out in your mind about your volunteer experience, with another volunteer or with our staff?

No one moment stands out but I always love when I am able to drive McKenna’s Wagon with a group of high school students because their enthusiasm, compassion and dedication is infectious.  I am always amazed by how much maturity the students show in performing their duties and how intelligently they resolve any situation we may encounter while serving. After volunteering with the students at Martha’s Table I am encouraged to know that these young people are our future leaders. Additionally, I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the staff and their hard work but specifically it is always a joy to work with volunteer coordinator, Meaza Yalew. It is always great to walk through the doors and see Meaza’s big simile and to know that whenever she is working everything will be handled, even if she has to get in the van and help serve as she has done many times. Witnessing her dedication and commitment is the reason why it is difficult to decline showing up whenever I’m needed and is the reason why I came back to volunteering so quickly after minor surgery this summer.