Living near Monroe Park as a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, Amy Menefee became accustomed to seeing homeless people line up for lunches. So it was a natural fit when she and three friends, including her future husband, Michael, started handing out sleeping bags in 2000.
Fourteen years and 2,500 sleeping bags later, “that project has kind of evolved,” Menefee says, and the passion remains strong. “We meet the people that are getting them. That makes a huge difference. You can feel the impact you’re making.”
The friends, who met through VCU’s Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, founded the Charitable Souls Foundation in 2001. As a certified public accountant and auditor, Menefee is, appropriately, its vice president and treasurer.
Today, Charitable Souls also gives out holiday gift bags to elderly residents at St. Joseph’s Home. Menefee’s connection to St. Joseph’s goes back to her childhood, growing up in Henrico’s West End. As a 12-year-old, she painted ladies’ fingernails and helped with activities.
Menefee shows a similar commitment to her career, which is just beginning to make room for women, although few are in the top jobs. As a senior manager, Menefee is the highest-ranked woman in Keiter’s auditing department. Menefee has used her leadership position to institute flexible work hours. Several colleagues are mothers of young children, as she is, and work from home or have shorter workweeks.
Except for the busy first quarter of the year, Menefee works on a flexible schedule so she can spend more time with her daughter, Emma, a 3-year-old who continues to surprise her mom with her developing vocabulary and skills.
Meanwhile, Menefee will continue working to improve life for her fellow Richmonders, as she always has. “I always have an idea,” she says. “I’m not the quiet type.”