Sunday, May 01, 2011
The last thing that Suzanne Gavin Gould and Jeffrey Gould wanted from guests attending their wedding last June was another vase.
A second marriage for both, the Long Island couple already had everything they wanted: a large, blended family with three children apiece, fulfilling careers and good health (the couple met during a spin class).
"We felt so lucky to have found each other and to have such a great life together," says Mrs. Gould. "We're so lucky, we wanted to give back."
So they encouraged their 100 wedding guests to pass on a mitzvah—a good deed—to others. Guests contributed through the UJA-Federation and in their honor to a program that assists Long Island and New York adults and children who are victims of domestic violence.
The program, operated by the nonprofit FEGS Health and Human Services System, recently received $20,000 from the couple and their guests.
The gift will go toward critical services—including covering housing payments to prevent an eviction or foreclosure, medical bills, insurance, gas and utility costs—for families that have suffered domestic violence. The aim is covering needs "to prevent a real crisis," says Mrs. Gould.
A psychotherapist in private practice in Great Neck, N.Y., Mrs. Gould, 46 years old, has worked for more than 20 years as a clinical social worker.
During her career, Mrs. Gould has regularly encountered elements of domestic violence, no matter what the socio-economic level, she says. It's especially true when she's called on to help with high-conflict, litigious divorces.
Mrs. Gould says that the cases of domestic violence "follow her" wherever she goes and that she's familiar with the unique needs of these families.
Mr. Gould, 45, is president and chief executive of BRT Realty Trust, a commercial lender for the real-estate industry based in Great Neck, N.Y. His family has long been active in charitable causes associated with the UJA-Federation.
The couple—who have four boys and two girls, ages 8 to 21, between them—say that both of their families have made philanthropy a tradition and it's one of the things that united them. They say that the wedding gift is the start to doing more.
Mr. Gould has hopes for a fund-raiser that's "beyond what we were able to do this time," he says.
"Right now, our lives are very crazy with six children, and Jeff working and my practice, but we certainly hope to in the future expand this to do a lot more for these families," says Mrs. Gould.
"My dream is one day to open a shelter," she says. "That's the ultimate goal."
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