Shake It Up! Ideas for Partnering with Non-YLD Entities to Perform Public Service Projects

Vol. 39 No. 5

By

Melissa J. Healy is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate in the Portland, Oregon, office of Stoel Rives LLP.

Spring is here, and it’s time to get outside—and think outside the box. While it is tempting to stay in the comfort zone of your bar association, working with an outside (read: nonlegal) organization may be the best way to get members of your local Affiliate networking, collaborating, and contributing to the community. Although it is great to establish ongoing support for a particular organization, one-time public service projects are an excellent way to fulfill a specific need while providing busy young attorneys with a calendar-conscious way to give back. With so many deserving causes in every area of the country, the hardest part might be choosing an organization to support. Here are a few ideas to get you moving in the right direction.

Do a Little Spring Cleaning

There is nothing like clearing out your closet to signal the end of the winter months. The Spokane County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (SCBA YLD), along with the Spokane Young Professionals, recently hosted a “Fill the Closet” business attire and accessories drive for the Fulcrum Institute Dispute Resolution Clinic. At the event, attendees brought new or gently used interview and work apparel and accessories (such as ties, shoes, makeup, and hair products) for donation to Fulcrum’s Re-Entry Closet. The Closet is designed to assist recently released ex-offenders achieve a professional job appearance as they enter the job market.

SCBA YLD Board Member Mack Mayo, who serves as a mentor through Fulcrum’s mentorship program, got the idea for the event after visiting the Closet and noticing that its selection needed updating. “Young lawyers often have a ton of stuff they don’t wear,” Mayo said. Sure enough, the event netted “hundreds of items,” with one attendee alone bringing “five to ten suits.” The event was held at the Spokane Club (a high-end athletic and events center) and sponsored by a number of local firms and small companies, whose names appeared on signs throughout the venue. The first 50 attendees who donated a professional item got a free drink, and whoever donated the most items of clothing received a gift certificate for a new suit from Jos. A. Bank. The YLD and the Spokane Young Professionals Boards marketed the event by personally emailing their friends and firms and setting up drop locations around town in case anyone couldn’t make it in person. Overall, Mayo explained, the “place was packed” and the event was a great success. According to Mayo, the only thing he would do differently in the future is “get a women’s clothing store to donate something as well.”

For more information, contact Mack at bmmayo@me.com.

Get Outside

If your allergies can stand it, there is nothing like physical activity and some good old-fashioned yard work to get your mind off billable hours and client demands. Community gardens are an excellent option for single-day public service opportunities. The Oregon New Lawyers Division (ONLD) Executive Committee recently spent a Saturday morning helping the Marion and Polk County Food Share to prepare a community garden, the Northgate Forgiveness and Peace Garden, for the upcoming season. The garden where they worked was a memorial garden to a young man tragically killed because of local gang violence. Members of the community in this underserved area work together to plant, cultivate, and harvest a mix of vegetables, flowers, and herbs, which they then share with each other or the local food bank. The organization is well-known locally for its work teaching low-income kids about how to grow organic foods and also sponsors gardens throughout the community with the food going to those in need. ONLD Chair-Elect Karen Clevering organized the event and can be reached at Karen.Clevering@doj.state.or.us for tips on working with community gardens.

Go Play

With warm weather comes outdoor sports and potential opportunities to team up with community organizations for game-related events. The San Diego County Bar Association’s New Lawyer Division (NLD) recently worked with the local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter to host “Phil’s Big BBQ at the Ballpark.” At the event, “bigs” and “littles” were invited to feast on a pre-game meal from Phil’s BBQ (a well-known San Diego haunt), along with Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, before heading to a San Diego Padres baseball game. NLD members assisted with setup and takedown and participated in the event by serving BBQ, scooping ice cream, and manning the on-site photo booth. Overall, the event “ran smoothly,” according to Eric Ganci, a former NLD Board Member and Chair of the Community Outreach and Events Committee. “Big Brothers Big Sisters is a wonderful organization and was very easy to work with.” In fact, Big Brothers Big Sisters did almost all of the planning for the event internally, leaving the NLD to focus on marketing the event and soliciting volunteers through email blasts and its listserv. If you are interested in learning more about working with your local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter, contact Eric at eric@gandgtriallawyers.com.

Happy planning!

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