Community Outreach

Cherish a Local Treasure!

The personal injury lawyers at The Law Office of William W. Hurst, LLC have always done everything they can to help their Indianapolis, Indiana, community.

On September 27, 2019, attorneys Chase Wilson and Charles Hubley teamed up with the Indianapolis Bar Association for their Yearly Indy Bar Day of Service sponsored by the Professionalism Committee.

Charles and Chase spent hours working hard to clear trails and clean up at Holiday Park in Indianapolis. After cleaning up and clearing popular walking and hiking trails, residents and park goers were pleased to see that it was a group of local lawyers who volunteered to clean up their local city park. Charles and Chase felt great (but a little sore!) afterwards knowing their contribution would improve someone else’s park experiences.

Holiday Park is a popular destination and community hub for many Indianapolis residents with a variety of outdoor activities for parents and their kids, including fantastic hiking and walking trails, playgrounds, and more. Thanks to generous volunteers like Charles and Chase, Indianapolis residents and visitors can enjoy this local treasure!

Posted on November 13, 2019 at 9:39 am in Community Outreach, General by Admin 2 - RSS 2.0

Helping Hurricane Dorian Survivors

Searcy Denney, AAJ Trial Lawyers Care, and Schroeder Law Office PLLC have set up an Amazon Wishlist of supplies to send to the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. The supplies will be shipped to AAJ member Brenda Fulmer and the attorneys at Searcy Denney who will send them to the Bahamas. Please click here to help those affected by Dorian. Thank you all in advance.

Posted on September 13, 2019 at 10:08 am in Community Outreach, Featured by Admin 2 - RSS 2.0

Trial Lawyers Helping a Friend in Need

Pastor Edwin Williams, Jr. partnered with Los Angeles Trial Lawyers’ Charities (LATLC) for more than three years and helped to create their largest community event—the Annual Holiday Turkey and Toy Giveaway.

Sadly, Pastor Williams had a stroke earlier this year. After months in the hospital and in rehab, he was finally ready to come home. His wife paid a contractor more than $15,000 to prepare the house—ramps, kitchen and bathroom ADA compliant, and more. However, this did not happen. The contractor lied about his license; he left the home in disarray; workers were not paid; and he vanished without completing the work.

LATLC President and American Association for Justice member Gerald Marcus happened to be watching Channel 2 news on June 28, 2019, and saw a woman wearing an LATLC t-shirt. It wasn’t until half-way through the story that he realized it was Pastor Williams and his wife who had been defrauded!

LATLC wanted to help the Pastor—just as he has helped his community for more than a decade as pastor of the New Prospect Baptist Church. However, non-profit regulations prevented LATLC from directly donating funds. A plan was needed!

LATLC created a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/pastor-williams) and opened a separate bank account to pay the bills. By Fri., July 12, $21,100 was raised! Gerald Marcus vetted contractors and hired KOM Contractors, whom he knew personally, and who wanted to do work at cost only. Channel 2 (2 on Your Side’s Kristine Lazar) was contacted and a second news story appeared July 10 to report on this wonderful turn of events: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQZZXy4LBlY&t=52s.

Construction work was completed by Monday, July 22; and Pastor Williams was able to return home to his newly remodeled home. Channel 2 aired a third news story showing an emotional Pastor Williams seeing his remodeled home for the first time, on July 25: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRchdLluxG8&t=16s.

Posted on August 21, 2019 at 2:40 pm in Community Outreach, General by admin - RSS 2.0

Connecting with People: Ankin Law Office Brings Holiday Cheer

Howard H. Ankin of Ankin Law Office in Chicago, Illinois, launched Operation Holiday Drive in December 2018 after a call from Pastor Kenyatta Smith of Another Chance Church. The Pastor wanted to provide toys to deprived children.

The Ankin Law Office organized six different sites that collected classic dolls, action figures, bikes, board games, hover boards, remote control cars, laptops, and Xboxes. In an area of Chicago well-known for unemployment, under-employment, and gun violence, the toy drive was greatly appreciated.  Ankin Law Office, along with other sponsors, met the goal of 10,000 toys collected.

All the toys were distributed at the Church on December 21, 2018.  Later that night, Howard reflected, “It’s one thing to feel good about collecting toys for families.  It’s another thing to be here tonight, meeting people in person, connecting with them, and seeing the excitement on their faces.”

 

Posted on at 9:00 am in Community Outreach, General by Admin 2 - RSS 2.0

Operation Helping Hands Expands Outreach to Fire Survivors

Kim Valentine of Valentine Law Group started a local organization to help the homeless called Operation Helping Hands (www.ohhsc.com) in 2011. Originally, the organization started in Kim’s garage, where she collected hygiene items and blankets to help the homeless in San Diego. This program evolved to provide backpacks in which recipients could carry their supplies and blankets. It has also expanded to about 100 volunteers gathering twice a year to help assemble the backpacks. Operation Helping Hands continues to grow and is now giving out about 2,500 backpacks to the homeless each year.

Although Kim lives in California, she does not live in Paradise or San Diego, but she knows people in both areas. When the Paradise Fires occurred, she knew people who lost everything and had nowhere to live. Kim learned that many of those people started living in tents at the local Walmart. Kim began collecting money and gift cards to help the people displaced by the Paradise Fires. Because of those fires, there are (as of December 2018) 700 people living on the county fairgrounds. Kim wants to continue to help them and others affected by the recent California fires. If you want to help Operation Helping Hands, which is a 501(c)(3), you can provide your tax-deductible donation to:

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Posted on December 11, 2018 at 6:15 pm in Community Outreach, General by TLC - RSS 2.0

Houston’s Huge Heart – Getting to Know TLC Award Winner Karen Beyea-Schroeder

AAJ Member Karen Beyea- Schroeder received the Trial Lawyers Care Award in July 2018 for spearheading a TLC school supply drive for Hurricane Harvey victims. In the conversation below, she tells TLC what inspired her to lead this project and what motivates her to keep giving back to her community.

TLC: What led you to develop the service project?

Karen Beyea-Schroeder: We were warned that Hurricane Harvey was coming, but having lived through blizzards and hurricanes I did not think it was going to be too bad. In fact, I was speaking at the Texas Women Rainmakers conference that Friday, August 25th joking I was ready for the hurricane as I had Cards Against Humanity and wine.

Then Harvey became a tropical storm and stayed over Houston for days. Flooding came along with some tornados. People started losing their homes.

I am not one to sit around, so my husband and I started by setting up Red Cross shelters, walking the dogs at the local shelter, and, when we could, answering calls for help on Facebook. When the rain stopped, Houston showed what it was truly made of—a huge heart. Houston attorneys were great at making sure the Houston attorneys and staff had housing and basic needs met. I saw other Houston attorneys like Erin Copeland and her family driving down the streets to offer a meal to people working to make their homes inhabitable. Houston really suffered from the hurricane but people came out in droves to try to help others.

Then the Houston School District announced that a number of schools were flooded so school openings were delayed—some by a few weeks and others up to a month later. Seven schools did not even open this year as they had to be entirely rebuilt. With the Houston community doing what they could to ensure families had basic needs met, something had to be done for the children to ensure they had basic needs for school as well. I speak on behalf of Houston Bar Association for schools on topics like Law as a Career, the Constitution, and other civics issues, so I thought perhaps helping the children to replace their basic school supplies would be a start.

TLC: How has being involved in this project or service affected your life? What has it meant to you?

Karen Beyea-Schroeder: I learned so much about the Houston Federation of Teachers, Houston School District, and the kids. One of the first schools I went to after the hurricane told me that they lost a student to the flood waters and the children had to grieve the loss of their friend. One child came to school with no shoes as they were lost in the flood, but attending school was so important to the family he came without enough clothes to properly dress himself. The school district was trying to replace some basic tools, but this took money and time and put the children behind in their classes. Teachers were getting donations to try to replenish their school supplies as they already spent their allotment for the year. In some cases, children were even being charged to replace their school books lost to the flood waters. There was so much turmoil. But what I saw was that, even with the children going through so much, they wanted to attend school and learn. They just needed tools to do this—both teachers and students. Being involved in this project let me help in a small way, and made me think about priorities and being thankful for what I have.

I also learned that although the Houston School District is the largest in the State of Texas, and seventh largest school district in the United States, almost 75% of students come from economically disadvantaged families. Yet, even with the economic stressors, the Houston School District has lowered its dropout rate from 22% in 2007 down to 13.7% in 2016. I believe the Houston Federation of Teachers is a large reason for this improvement. It was my point of contact for the project and always thought about how to best help the children and give them the tools they needed. So being able to help kids even with small things like a classroom learning center, pair of scissors, or paper was one less worry for the students, teachers, and families. Houston will be rebuilding from the hurricane for years, and helping, even if in just one area, is always good.

I am thankful for being introduced to the wonderful president of the Houston Federation of Teachers Zeph Capo, the many teachers, and, of course, the kids. We made sure to bring in help from Art Kosieradzki at Sieben Carey and his children’s National Robotics Team to get more donations. We also had the generosity of Mark and Becky Lanier to use their property to store the donations until Boy Scout Troop 889 from The Woodlands, Texas could sort and organize the donations. This project showed me that it takes many people to bring an idea to execution, and there are a lot of people with big hearts. The helping continues as I continue to discuss with Zeph what the Houston schools need, and some of the Boy Scouts have decided to help the Houston Schools for their Eagle Projects.

TLC: Why is it important to you to give back to the community?

Karen Beyea-Schroeder: The community gives you so much in life, a random smile, a person who stops on the side of the road to help you with a flat tire, or even that person who bought your meal in the drive thru. Giving back is the least one can do. Helping the Houston children is an investment in the future. Some day they will be our leaders, our educators, our doctors. They will be the people making decisions in government. Sometimes all they need is a break. If giving school supplies helps give the teachers and students a break, it is a true investment in our future. It teaches them to give back as well.

Posted on October 9, 2018 at 8:26 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Advocating for Yourself: Brandi Denton Gatewood Raises Money for MS

Today, we want to highlight the incredible Brandi Denton Gatewood of LoCoco, LoCoco & Gatewood, PLLC, in D’Ibervile, Mississippi, and share her story:

“I never imagined that I would be a person telling my story on any particular ‘support my cause’ page, but that’s what happened in 2017.

At 35 years old in May 2017, the worst physical ailment that I had ever suffered was the flu. But there I was with a numb and tingling face trying to eliminate possible sources of the weird sensations. Then came the blurry and double vision. I did what any prudent person would and started making appointments with various medical providers, but none of them could explain the strange happenings that I was experiencing.

On June 13, I had a MRI in the morning, and by the afternoon, I had a presumptive diagnosis. It was multiple sclerosis. The following day, I had another MRI and a lumbar puncture. These tests, together with neurological exams, confirmed the diagnosis. I am fortunate to have a husband that is a physician, and he pushed to make all of these tests and exams happen quickly, both at our local hospital and at Cleveland Clinic. I am grateful for his advocacy on my behalf, and, always, for his love and support.

I am an injury lawyer, which makes me an advocate. That’s what I do. I advocate for clients and their families every day. When I got this diagnosis, I was angry. I did not want to talk about it, and I did not want to disclose it to anyone outside of my close family, very few close friends, and my law partners (who also happen to be close friends). Once I worked through the anger, I realized that I had to do for myself what I do for others daily. I have to advocate. I have to advocate on behalf of myself, my husband and family, and my friends and others that have been touched by or have MS.

Once I decided to get active for this cause, I created a Walk MS team—Team Notorious BDG—and we raised almost $11,000 for the National MS Society. Then I got talked into signing up for Bike MS: Tour de Beach, so Team Notorious BDG established a team for that ride and raised almost $6,000. I also went to Capitol Hill with the National MS Society for their Public Policy Conference and Lobby Day. Recently, I was asked to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi/Alabama Chapter of the National MS Society.

Several AAJ members came from out-of-state for both of these fundraising events. Karen Schroeder hijacked a dinner at one of the board meetings and raised over $500 for the bike ride. The AAJ New Lawyers Division made a $1,500 contribution on my behalf. John Bey came to the walk and gave a $1,000 contribution. Laura Yaeger brought her family to the bike ride, and she and her wife biked across the finish line with me. Many other AAJ members have made generous contributions to the National MS Society on behalf of me and Team Notorious BDG. I am grateful for my trial lawyer family.”

Contribute to the cause: Tour de Beach is still working to meet its $250,000 fundraising goal. If you would like to help support Brandi and the National MS Society, please click here to make a donation. The funds will be used for MS research, services, and more.

 

Below are photos from fundraising events in which AAJ members came together to raise money for the National MS Society and support one of their own. 

 

Brandi Denton Gatewood lobbies on Capitol Hill with the National MS Society.

Posted on September 25, 2018 at 5:14 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Enjoying Summer Like Any Other Child: Brandi Denton Gatewood & Camp Rainbow

Camp Rainbow is a camp that is dedicated to Mississippi’s pediatric cancer patients and survivors. For one week every summer, the children get to go and enjoy a summer camp just like any other child. Volunteers go as counselors—some of the counselors were once campers at Camp Rainbow themselves—to “staff” the camp. Everyone involved has some connection to cancer—they had/have it, someone they love had/have it, or they’re just passionate about children who have or had cancer. Camp Rainbow is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization. Camp happens because of the generous donations of others.

AAJ member Brandi Denton Gatewood of LoCoco, LoCoco & Gatewood, PLLC, in D’Ibervile, Missisissippi, introduced TLC to Camp Rainbow and told us what it means to her.

“I initially got involved with Camp Rainbow through the Kitchens family. Dan, John, and Matt are all AAJ members. That family got heavily involved with Camp Rainbow because Dan was a camper. Once Dan completed his cancer treatment, and all of the boys got old enough, they started volunteering as counselors. They’ve been doing this for over 20 years. Meanwhile, their mother, Mary Kitchens, served many years as the Camp Director.  Eventually, she turned that over to someone else and founded Mississippi’s Toughest Kids Foundation (MTK). MTK is in the process of building a camp ground—Camp Kamassa—that is fully handicap accessible, so that Camp Rainbow and all of the other special needs camps in Mississippi will have a functional camp ground for the children to enjoy.

I started volunteering regularly as a Camp Rainbow counselor in 2011 and fell in love with it. This year, I was asked to lead arts & crafts. Camp does not have a big budget for arts & crafts, so I created an Amazon wish list for the projects that I had selected for the kids to make this year. Every item from that wish list was purchased and shipped to my house by the AAJ Women Trial Lawyers Caucus and Mississippi Association for Justice Women’s Caucus. The Women’s Caucuses of AAJ and MAJ made arts & crafts possible this year.”

Below is a picture of Brandi Denton Gatewood and Dan, John, and Matt Kitchens at Camp Rainbow in 2018.

Posted on at 4:48 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Leave it Better Than You Found It: TLC Award Nominee Michael Freedland

Michael Freedland of Freedland Harwin Valori, PL, in Fort Lauderdale, FL, was a nominee for the 2018 Trial Lawyers Care Award and our featured trial lawyer for today!

Michael is a member of the Rotary Club of Weston and an enthusiastic leader of its scholarship fundraising efforts. Michael has been instrumental in growth of the scholarship program, expanding it from a few small scholarships at one school to today supporting three local high schools as well as the nonprofit organization HANDY (Helping, Abused, Neglected, Disadvantaged Youth). Under his leadership, the scholarship program has provided more than $1 million in scholarships.

One of the key fundraising events is the FHVLegal.com Golf Classic, sponsored by the Freedland Harwin Valori firm, which brings together more than 175 leaders in the community to address the needs of local students. In 2017, the participants raised approximately $150,000.00 which resulted in college scholarships to 50 students.

Ft. Lauderdale has one of the largest school districts in the country, containing a mix of students from affluent areas and students for whom the idea of paying for college seems like a pipe dream. These scholarships help make that dream possible.

When asked what led him to get involved, Michael stated “knowing we’re giving these students opportunity and hoping they will pay it forward and do other great things in their community makes it all worth it.”

Michael, his firm, and his family have also contributed a significant amount of money and time over the last 10 years to ensure every family in their community who needs food, clothing, or other help, receives it during the holiday season. “At the end of the day, we all want to leave the world a little better than we found it—this is my way of doing that.”

As a dedicated member of his community, Michael was recently appointed to the steering committee for the Broward Education Foundation Fund for the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The steering committee will be responsible for raising additional money as well as defining the protocols for the disbursement of the proceeds to the victims.

Below are a few pictures of students being honored at recent Rotary Club scholarship award breakfasts.

 

Posted on September 18, 2018 at 7:15 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

Project KidSafe – Breakstone, White & Gluck Break Out the Bike Helmets

When bicycling took off in popularity in the Boston area several years ago, so did the news stories of bicyclists severely injured or killed. The attorneys at Breakstone, White & Gluck, who often represent personal injury clients, saw the problem firsthand, and wanted to do something to help.

In 2013, they launched Project KidSafe in response. The project focuses on children and youth, whose brains are particularly vulnerable to head injuries in bicycle collisions. Unfortunately, many minors do not wear helmets when biking, because they cannot afford them or because of social stigma. The attorneys saw an opportunity to step up.

“We wanted to encourage children to wear bicycle helmets to prevent serious head injuries,” says David W. White, one of the firm’s partners. “We know helmets can save lives so we wanted children to start wearing them early.”

White and fellow partners Marc L. Breakstone and Ronald E. Gluck started sponsoring bike safety events, often at schools, speaking to kids about the dangers of head injury and the benefits of wearing a helmet. After speaking, they fit the kids with free helmets.

The firm started partnering with organizations like Boston’s bike program, and now have more than 40 partner groups in the region.

Today, the program sponsors dozens of events each year in the greater Boston area, working with schools, police departments, and town bicycle committees to reach kids in each town. It donates helmets to police departments to keep in their patrol cars to give to kids who need them.

“We enjoy our Project KidSafe work. But it’s not all work for us. It’s a lot of fun to get out and fit helmets for the kids and meet the families at bike rodeos and bike safety events,” says White. “Our campaign is working and that’s very rewarding.”

Breakstone, White and Gluck have donated more than 20,000 helmets so far.

 

Check out more great photos on the bwglaw Instagram!

 

Posted on August 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm in Community Outreach, General by Marie D'Avignon - RSS 2.0

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