There are Heroes Amongst Us
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
by: Heather Proudfoot, Pro Bono/Community Outreach Committee Chair

Section: Fall 2017

Author Biography

Heather Proudfoot is an employment and business lawyer, an officer of the WDTL, and Chair of the WDTL’s Pro Bono/Community Outreach Committee. She was a shareholder of Stafford Frey Cooper, where she worked for 12 years before going in-house. She is presently on a hiatus to stay at home with her young son, but remains active in the legal and business communities.
Wow.  Let’s list them.  Massive flooding and monsoons in South Asia; hurricanes in Houston, Florida, Georgia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and six other island nations in the Caribbean; earthquakes in Mexico; mass executions and injuries in Las Vegas; an erupting volcano in Bali; thousands of terrorism murders and injuries worldwide.  I could go on, but I am listing things off the top of my head and my brain is no longer what it used to be.  What I do know is that we Americans, we humans, are experiencing mind-numbing, faith-testing challenge after challenge.  So many dead.  So many displaced.  So many suffering.  And that doesn’t even contemplate our daily battles with “regular” homelessness, violence, and poverty.
Heather with a sign stating: "We <3 Giving Together"
If anything beautiful is said to have come from these horrific events, it is that I have seen so many rally to the aid of others.  Hundreds of first responders and civilians risked their lives to save people and provide medical aid under unimaginable conditions.  Many lost their lives in the service of others.  JJ Watt raised $37.1 million dollars for Houston, and countless others donated independent of that fund for Houston and other crisis locations.  Restaurateurs donated food.  Furniture stores donated shelter.  People loaned planes to deliver aid and transfer the sick to functioning hospitals.  Others donated water, food, batteries, and equipment or helped in countless other, important ways.  Crisis can sometimes turn Clarks into Supermen and Dianas into Wonder Women. 
But this isn’t the first time I have seen people actively, selflessly help others.  As a proud WDTL Trustee, Pro Bono/Community Outreach Committee Chair, and WDTL member for over 15 years, time and again I have seen our members and core sponsors help those in need.  I am moved beyond words at your generosity and dedication.  You, too, are heroes to the strangers you help each time you donate your time to provide legal aid or your resources to provide warm coats, school supplies, or toiletries.  Thus, in this article, I want to honor you and thank you for inspiring me and others to act.  Because listing all our WDTL heroes would make quick work of my “word allotment,” I’ll instead highlight some of what you have done to serve others in the past year.
  • October 2016 - you donated approximately 1,600 coats and cold weather items to the homeless and disenfranchised statewide.  Forsberg & Umlauf alone collected 800 items, and Jim Baker of Jerry Moberg & Associates in Ephrata yet again donated boxes of new coats he had shipped straight from the store.  So many of you participated.
  • October 2016 – you donated your time and expertise to draft estate planning documents for Washington veterans. 
  • December 2016 – prompted by WDTL member Donna Chamberlin of Lewis Brisbois, you raised $1,250 dollars for Food Lifeline.  That bought 6,250 meals to help the hungry!  (Note: If you have any cause you are passionate for, please contact me.  Our committee would love to help!)
  • February 2017 – you prepped, served, and cleaned up after 898 meals at the Union Gospel Mission.  Thank you Gauri Locker for organizing this opportunity and thank you attorneys from Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Lewis Brisbois, Sedgewick, the Attorney General’s Office, and Gordon & Rees, professionals from Machoan Medical Evaluations, spouses/partners, and others who volunteered.  As the UGM people said, you provided meals and dignity to their clients. 
  • April 2017 – you volunteered to build houses for Housing Hope in Snohomish County.  It was rained out, but you volunteered!  That counts!
  • May 2017 – you donated money to send homeless children and their teachers at Wellspring’s Early Learning Center on educational excursions to places like the zoo, museums, and the beach.  Your donations provided transportation, admission, snacks and learning materials for these kiddos.
  • June 2017 – you donated dozens of copies of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” graduation caps and gowns, and ice cream for the Wellspring Early Learning Center’s graduating students.  As one teacher stated, the special recognition we provided these homeless and disadvantaged preschoolers, many of whom are rising above domestic violence and trauma, will touch these kids and their families in ways we cannot even imagine.
  • June 2017 – you donated your time and expertise at legal clinics all over the state.
  • September 2017 – you donated backpacks, school supplies and money to be used for tutoring, school pictures, and membership in sports teams to dozens of foster kids through Treehouse.  Thank you Alex Foster-Brown (newcomer to the Bar) for chairing this amazing project.
  • September/October 2017 – you started “Soctober,” during which you collected socks, underwear, and money for donation.  Thank you John Randoph for organizing this, the Spokane firm of Bohrnsen, Stocker, Smith, Luciani, and everyone who donated!
  • The first Monday of EVERY month – the Spokane firm Kirkpatrick and Startzel prepares and serves lunch at a Spokane homeless shelter.  Wow! 
  • Year round – you collected and donated toiletries that were distributed to places like Mary’s Place, Wellspring Family Services, and Union Gospel Mission.
  • In progress - several WDTL members are organizing opportunities to help the disaster victims mentioned above.  Thank you to Celeste Stokes, Amee Tilger, Heath Fox, and Maggie Sweeney for taking this on!  We also recently kicked off our annual Golden Coat Competition, with coats and cold weather items to go to YouthCare in Seattle and Crosswalk in Spokane this year.  We are preparing another Pro Bono CLE for ethics credit, coming early 2018, and we will offer many other opportunities for service in 2018.

As American writer Joseph Campbell observed, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”  I think many of our WDTL membership and core sponsors have given something bigger than themselves this year and for many years in the past.  Yes, there are heroes amongst us.  On behalf of the WDTL and the Pro Bono/Community Outreach Committee, I want to recognize and thank you.