Volunteering has always been a part of Gale Zemel’s life. In her 35-years in Oak Park, Gale has been giving back to the community by helping Housing Forward for the last 10. Her work in Housing Forward’s Support Center in Maywood has transformed a once cluttered space filled with boxes of weekly donations into a well-organized and accessible clothing closet. It almost feels as if you are walking into a clothing store as everything is clearly labeled and arranged according to size. “All that’s missing is a full length mirror,” states Gale, who experiences joy when clients come in and easily find things they need to prepare for an interview or to face the Chicago weather.
Gale enjoys volunteering because she has a good time connecting with clients that come through the Support Center. When asked why she continues to volunteer, she explains, "I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor and by volunteering I can give back so much more than I can ever gain." As a volunteer leader, Gale has also recruited two others to help manage donations when she is unable to be at the Support Center.
Gale lives by the inspiring quote by well-known Chicago Journalist, Scott Hamilton, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” This has been true in her life as she worked with individuals with physical or mental disabilities. “Whatever your circumstance, don’t look at it as a handicap and don’t let it negatively affect your outcome of life,” says Gale. She believes that as volunteers and clients, there should always be a sense of dignity and respect when interacting with one another.
Housing Forward is proud to recognize Gale as one of our outstanding volunteers. As she advocates for ending homelessness and volunteers her time and energy in our Support Center, she inevitably helps to forward our mission. Thank you for your hard work and dedication.