Friends of the Soldiers Home is a 501 (c)(3) organization serving to strengthen the bond between the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington and the surrounding community. Through service, education and engagement, Friends of the Soldiers Home connects citizens and veterans in a relationship that recognizes the sacrifice of military service and enhances quality of life for veteran and citizen alike.
In November 2011, the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington and surrounding community held a meeting about ending years of neglect in relating to one another.
What blossomed was Friends of the Soldiers Home.
Starting with a Jingo volunteer night in December 2011, Friends went on to partner with the Home to conduct 209 volunteer events through the end of 2016. In 2016 alone, 384 people collectively gave 2,211 hours of volunteer time at 54 events.
Regular events include monthly Jingo, Happy Hour, Saloon Night With Friends and Bowling With Friends. Each spring, the Home and Friends pairs community volunteers with veteran residents to tend vegetable plots together in the Friends Garden Project.
Friends also holds annual community celebrations with the Home, including Spring Fling, which occurs the first Saturday in May, July 4 Fireworks, and Fall Fun Fest, which happens on the first Sunday in October. In December, the Friends and Home residents gather together for the annual holiday tree lighting. Thousands of people from the community attended these events to better connect the residents and historic campus with the surrounding nation’s capital.
See the “volunteer opportunities” and “events” section of this website to learn more details about 2017 activities.
To volunteer with the Friends, write Lori Lincoln at volunteerfriendsofsoldiers (at) gmail (dot) com. All other inquiries should go to John Hughes, chairman of Friends of the Soldiers Home, at friendsofsoldiers (at) gmail (dot) com. Friends is also at Facebook/friendsofsoldiers and Twitter/@friendssoldiers.
Friends of the Soldiers Home Board of Directors:
Reyn Anderson is co-founder and president of Friends of the Soldiers Home. She is an attorney at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, where she practices litigation and structured finance. She received a B.A. in English and Russian from the University of Florida and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. Reyn has served as a trustee on the board of the Committee of 100 of the Federal City. She grew up in Tallahassee, Florida, the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of veterans, and she lives in Washington with her husband Alexey and children Iona and Seneca.
Louis Avenilla works as a manager with the U.S. Census Bureau. He started volunteering with Friends of the Soldiers Home in 2015. Originally from Los Angeles, Lou completed a B.A. in History from UCLA. An avid student of history, he grew up hearing stories from his parents about the occupation and eventual liberation of the Philippines during WWII. His mother even remembers seeing Gen. MacArthur in Leyte on his return to the islands. His father is a veteran of the Philippine Air Force. With a strong belief in giving back to the community, Louis has volunteered in community gardening, literacy campaigns and taught oversees as a Peace Corps volunteer. He states, “Meeting the men and women of the Soldiers Home has been such a privilege and heightens my appreciation.” A resident of Prince George’s County, Lou enjoys cycling, traveling, golf and tinkering with his car when the engine light comes on.
Terence Bennett is an active duty lieutenant in the U.S. Navy. He grew up in South Florida and graduated from the Naval Academy with a B.S. in Economics. He has served on ships throughout the world, including the Arabian Gulf, South China Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Gulf of Guinea, and he deployed to Iraq. In his free time, in addition to his work with Friends of the Soldiers Home, he volunteers as a Naval Academy sailing coach and Honor Flight guardian. He lives in Washington with his wife, Brenda.
Scot Bohl is the director of product design at CoStar Group Inc., a commercial real estate information company. He has volunteered in the gardening program with Friends of the Soldiers Home since the partnership began in 2012. Originally from upstate New York, Scot completed a B.A. in History at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Scot and his wife Sarah live in Washington’s Park View neighborhood with their baby boy Jackson and their dog Babe.
Elizabeth A. Cocke, Ph.D.is vice president of Friends of the Soldiers Home. She joined in 2013 as a volunteer and later that year began managing Happy Hour for the Friends. She joined the Board in 2014. Liz currently serves as the Division Director at the Office Policy Development and Research, with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Liz shares this about why she volunteers with the Friends: “My father was career military but after World War II and graduate work, was posted in Washington,D.C. for the remainder of his career. My siblings and I were all born at Walter Reed; my father was married in the Walter Reed chapel twice; my siblings and I were all baptized in the Walter Reed chapel, and my father died at Walter Reed. This and many other experiences with the military establishment gives me a large number of opportunities for conversation with retired members of the armed services.”
Kathleen Duffy began volunteering with Friends of the Soldiers Home in 2016 and joined the board starting in 2017. She grew up in Stuart, Fla. and attended the University of Auburn, where she majored in History. She now resides in Washington and works for RJI Capital Corporation. She is the proud granddaughter of two veterans and feels passionate about caring for and enriching the lives of the individuals who have dedicated their own lives to serving our country.
Lauri Hafvenstein is secretary of Friends of the Soldiers Home. She is the former President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Park View United Neighborhood Coalition in Washington, D.C., and co-author of a book about the history of the Park View neighborhood, Images of America, Park View. Her career in digital media has spanned several decades, with a long tenure at National Geographic, where she held a variety of positions including Executive Producer for nationalgeographic.com. The daughter of a veteran, she is an underwater photographer, artist, and passionate preservationist. Lauri currently is in the process of restoring her 100-year-old row house in the Park View neighborhood of Washington.
Kerry Hamblin is a high school counselor at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Va. A native of the area, she graduated from Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, earned her BA at the University of Virginia and taught high school science with the Teach for America program in San Jose, California. She went back to school to get her MEd in School Counseling at the University of Florida. Kerry has been a volunteer with the Friends of the Soldiers Home since 2014 and coordinated the popular Saloon Night events. Kerry lives with her husband Matt and daughter Claire across the street from the Soldiers Home. She loves being a stone’s throw from the big FOSH events like the Spring Fling and Fourth of July celebration.
Zachary Hartman a founding board member for Friends of the Soldiers Home, is director of national affairs for Anheuser-Busch. He was a past senior legislative assistant for Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas, specializing in veterans affairs, defense, natural resources and agriculture. A native of Sarasota, Fla., Zachary is the grandson of a B-17 navigator who spent months in a German POW camp during World War II. He received his B.A. in Secondary Social Science Education from the University of Georgia and has done advocacy work for the Fraternal Order of Police. He is a former Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Ward 4C-09 in Washington, where he and his wife, Natalie, live with their two young sons, Davis and Palmer.
John Hughes is co-founder and chairman of Friends of the Soldiers Home. He works an an editor for the breaking news desk at Bloomberg News in Washington. A native of Maplewood, Minn., he received a B.S. in political science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and an M.S.J. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He is former National Press Club president and board member and vice chairman of the Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish Finance Council. He lives in Washington with his wife, Ellen, and teen-age children, Isabelle and Teddy.
Rocelia Johnson is a supervisory program analyst at the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. She was born in New Orleans and attended Dillard University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. She serves as president of “It’s Instrumental,” a parent organization at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Rocelia is also very active with Florida Avenue Baptist Church. She lives in Washington with her husband, Lonell, and three children, Joan-Nicole, Lonell III and Caleb. Her great-grandfather served in World War I, grandfather served in World War II and she has a nephew currently serving in the Marines. She has been a volunteer with Friends of the Soldiers Home since 2014, enjoying various events, but she really loves helping out with Bowling Night.
Timothy Jones is founding board member with Friends of the Soldiers Home, is an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for Ward 4C-08. He was born in St. Louis, the son of a U.S. Army lieutenant who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. He grew up on military bases in the U.S. and Europe and graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in economics. He has served as president of the Howard University School of Business Alumni Association and treasurer of the Howard Theatre Preservation Project Board. He lives in Washington, where he is a licensed real estate broker and dealer in new and used books.
Lauren Kessler is a native Washingtonian who is finishing her MBA at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. She studied photography and graphic design at the Parsons School of Design and taught art in the palliative care unit of the VA Hospital on Irving Street in Washington. She used to live in Istanbul and is an avid cook and adventurer. Prior to starting at UMD (go Terps!), she worked extensively in digital marketing and art direction. She currently lives in NoMa with her dog named Monkey and is thrilled to be part of the Soldiers Home community.
John Skuletich is treasurer of Friends of the Soldiers Home. He is an attorney at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, where he practices litigation and structured finance. He received a B.A. in Economics from Georgetown University and a J.D. from Catholic University of America. John grew up in Annapolis, Maryland (Go Navy!) and lives in Washington with his wife Jennifer and their overweight cat, Judi. He is the proud grandson and great-nephew of World War II veterans and is grateful for the opportunity to serve the Soldiers Home.
Friends of the Soldiers Home Volunteer Coordinator:
Lori Lincoln is the volunteer coordinator for Friends of the Soldiers Home. She is director of college and career Services at Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter High School. You can also find her still actively engaged in her first profession as a licensed funeral director. A native of Gary, Indiana, Lori is the granddaughter of a World War II Army sergeant. She attended the University of the District of Columbia, Howard University, Stanford University and UCLA, where she has earned degrees in Mortuary Science, English, Business Administration and College Counseling. Lori and sons John, 15, and Denver, 11, live in Washington with daughter Lauren, 25, and grand-pup Penelope nearby.