Newspapers around the state have written stories about Georgia Legal Services Program winning the American Bar Association’s Hodson Award for Public Service. Below are links to some of the articles:
GLSP’s recent campaign through the State Bar of Georgia has surpassed its fundraising goal by netting $554,299.
“We are so pleased to see growing support among the private bar,” said Executive Director Phyllis Holmen.
Donations to the State Bar “And Justice for All” campaign come from individual lawyers around the state who either write individual checks or opt in to a GLSP donation through their State Bar dues payment. The funds were presented to Holmen by State Bar President Charles Ruffin at the Bar convention in Amelia Island, Florida in June.
“It is gratifying to see lawyers across the state write checks to support civil legal services for the poor,” said Holmen. The Bar campaign represents less than five percent of GLSP’s total budget, but is the way the organization connects with Georgia lawyers who believe in supporting civil legal aid. Many state lawyers also support GLSP by volunteering to represent low-income clients pro-bono.
Most of GLSP’s funding comes from grants from the Legal Services Corporation, which is funded by Congress and supports legal aid organizations across the country. Other GLSP funding comes from contracts through the Older Americans Act, as well as grants from the Judicial Council of Georgia, the Georgia Bar Foundation, the State Bar of Georgia Pro Bono Project, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Georgia Legal Services Foundation, the National Council on Aging, various fundraising events and others.
As former GLSP board President Aaron Buchsbaum neared the end of his life, his family sought ways to honor the institutions that had meant so much to him. Georgia Legal Services Program was one of those institutions. With the establishment of the Aaron L. Buchsbaum Fellowship Fund, based on a gift of $650,000 from Buchsbaum and his wife Esther, a recent Emory Law graduate will be chosen every other year to receive funding to work as a fellow at GLSP for a year.
Read more from Emory Lawyer magazine: CLICK HERE
Family Law Specialist Vicky Kimbrell and Senior Staff Attorney Wingo Smith of the Piedmont office were invited to do a talk radio show on Clear Channel, which provides content to 121 radio stations across Georgia. Kimbrell and Smith talked about how GLSP can help victims of domestic violence and how our lawyers are trying to improve how DV cases are handled by law enforcement officials and the courts across the state.
To hear the radio show, CLICK HERE…
Listen to a radio program on which Macon Supervising Attorney Tomieka Daniel is interviewed about domestic violence and what can be done to prevent it and to help its victims. CLICK HERE to link to the program aired on WCLK Atlanta.
To see the video CLICK HERE
Georgia Legal Services Program has won major recognition from the American Bar Association in the form of the Hodson Award for Public Service for 2014.
Named in honor of the distinguished public service career of the late Major General Kenneth J. Hodson, a former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army and founder of the ABA’s Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, the Hodson Award recognizes “sustained, outstanding performance for a specific and extraordinary service by a government or public sector law office.”
“The work ethic, accomplishments and dedication of the staff of the Georgia Legal Services Program are truly an inspiration to other public lawyers across the country,” said Alexander W. Purdue, chair of the American Bar Association, as he announced the award.
In the nomination letter, a committee of prominent Georgia lawyers wrote:
“For over 40 years, GLSP attorneys and paralegals have reached out to clients in rural areas, small towns and even counties in Georgia where there are no other lawyers at all. The firm is innovative, strategic, and effective in addressing critical civil legal problems. In this nomination, you will read about the efforts of GLSP to address the recession-driven legal needs of their clients, even in the face of declining resources with which to do so. We believe the sustained, extraordinary services by GLSP make it highly deserving of the Hodson Award for 2014.”
That committee includes R. William Ide III, a partner in McKenna Long & Aldridge law firm, a past president of the ABA and one of the founders of GLSP. It also includes The Honorable Hugh Thompson, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.
The award will be presented at the American Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Boston at the Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division’s awards reception on Friday, August 8th.
Page printed from: Daily Report
Lawyer Biking in All 159 of Georgia’s Counties for Legal Services
Damon Elmore is bicycling in all 159 of the state’s counties to spread the word and raise money for Georgia Legal Services Program
Paul Shea, Daily Report
The Moore Sparks partner is spending many weekends this year riding his bike around Georgia—all of Georgia. Elmore, whose practice focuses on labor and employment, is determined to pedal in each of the state’s 159 counties. It’s for a good cause.
Elmore is risking saddle sores and weary legs to raise awareness and money for the Georgia Legal Services Program, a nonprofit law firm founded in 1971 that offers free legal help to the state’s poor in all but the five-county metro Atlanta area. Elmore is a longtime member of GLSP’s board of directors.
GLSP has 10 regional offices helping low-income Georgians with civil matters such as domestic violence, housing, education, access to health care, benefits and civil rights issues.
The biking attorney is more than halfway through his journey. He has ridden in 91 counties and, weather permitting, will add as many as four more by this weekend. He rides mostly in county seats, often on 20-mile tours, but has gone as far as 100 miles on multiple-county weekends. The goal is to raise $15,900 by year’s end (for 159 counties).
Elmore, who is 42, is peddling as fast as he can on social media, too, using Twitter (@bikeGAcounties) and Instagram (@damonelmore). He is also using www.razoo.com/story/Damon-Bikes-In-Every-Georgia-County for fundraising and messaging.
What gave you the idea for bike-ride fundraisers?
It was a marriage of convenience. Like many, I had been a casual bike rider all my life. It has been within the last two or three years that I have gotten serious about the sport, mainly for the health benefits. What gave me the idea to marry my bike riding and raising money for the Georgia Legal Services Program was some time I spent with a friend who was training for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. On a very small scale, I thought, I can do that for GLSP.
You are now more than halfway through. How would you characterize the response so far?
It has taken a while for the idea to sink in because I have been more shy about my effort than I should be. However, now that the exposure has grown and more people are talking about it, everyone seems fascinated by the bike portion.
That gives me a chance to introduce the cause, and that’s when I see people become enlightened about the broad range of legal services provided for a large part of our state’s population. That’s for lawyers and nonlawyers alike.
What are you seeing as the biggest needs of GLSP clients in 2014?
GLSP’s clients have legal problems that impact their very basic needs, such as wages, or sometimes the very basic benefits of our country’s safety net: keeping a roof over their heads, getting access to medical care and getting a good education for their kids.
Seniors are being exploited by unscrupulous creditors and are also getting caught in the red tape surrounding old-age benefits. We’re working to help clients who don’t speak English well. It shouldn’t take a lawyer to get Medicaid, or to keep your child in school, but often it does.
What are people along your routes telling you?
People are surprised at the breadth of services that GLSP provides and what civil legal services for the poor really means. In talking to people along the way, I hear time and again: “We need help. People here need help.”
Often, people don’t see these every-day problems as legal ones, so it’s always great to connect with them, talk to them and educate them a little about why I ride, both for myself and GLSP.
What are the challenges of meeting those needs?
The increasing number of poor people in the state and lack of enough lawyers to address their critical problems. Clients in very rural parts of the state often are without transportation or money for phone minutes to contact a lawyer for help. Sometimes the legal issues are complex. And there are few alternative sources of help for poor people.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of Georgia lawyers who are generous with their time and support of pro bono efforts. Even with all of their support and the heavy load our staff attorneys manage, there is always more [need].
How are lawyers in regional GLSP offices reacting to your visits?
Like everyone else, they are somewhat fascinated by the cycling component. Beyond that, we know that the staff attorneys are grateful for the support provided as a member of the board of directors, and the awareness we are trying to bring to their work.
Aside from social media, how are you publicizing your rides before going to specific counties?
A phone call to the chambers of commerce, visitors/tourist centers or similar entities. We were able to generate a bit of buzz with that effort in Baldwin, Laurens and Talbot counties. We’ll also send a notice or mini-press release to the local paper. If one is in the area, I will give a heads-up to local bike shops.
Whether spontaneous or planned, I have always found a coffee or snack shop where a conversation is started up about the biking and, then, we launch into our story.
Are you riding with attorneys from the regional offices?
We try and ride with any that will join and extend an open invitation. This is even for the casual, new rider or person looking to get a little exercise. Attorneys and friends of GLSP have joined us on rides in Augusta (Richmond County), in Greene County and along the Silver Comet Trail through Polk and Paulding. From time to time we will get interest in some of the poorer areas from children on their bikes that want to race.
You are taking photographs and telling stories about your trip on a Web page. How has that been received?
I’ve really enjoyed taking photos and researching the counties where I ride and adding information about that in the captions and tweets. Using social media to get the word out about my efforts is a fun and rewarding component.
It’s been well received by the cycling and legal community in Georgia, as well as folks that just happen upon my Instagram feed. In a sense, I think many of those pictures of #thingsseencycling tell more about our story.
Who has helped you with this project?
The support and suggestions have been overwhelming. The leadership team and members of the board with Georgia Legal Services have made sure we are accurate with our message. Josh Bell from Whigham, Ga., has been a huge support and one of our largest donors to date. Our friends at Loose Nuts Bike Shop in Grant Park have been kind with technical advice and keeping our equipment up-to-date.
But Sarah Coole (State Bar of Georgia) has been the biggest help—willing to give her thoughts on our press releases and social media notices. She has also been kind enough to snap a picture or two.
If you had the money in hand today, what would you do with the $15,900?
We’d be sure to spread it out and around the counties and potential clients we serve. What’s really important about this initiative is being out there, in every county in Georgia, connecting with a huge range of people and getting the word out about GLSP. The $15,900 could help supplement the salary for an attorney in one of our regional offices where we could help our neighbors, particularly in those middle regions.
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