They came from Alaska, California, New York City, and from across the region to show appreciation for the many accomplishments of Sheila A. Gaddis as she retired from Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, Inc.
Rev. Gracie Jackson of Anchorage, Alaska, has retained a friendship with Gaddis that brought her some 4,200 miles to give the invocation at the March 8 retirement party held at Locust Hill Country Club.
Darin Smith-Gaddis and his wife came from California to share the evening of tributes, food, and entertainment.
“My mother is an everyday warrior,” Smith-Gaddis said. “She has always been my most trusted companion and guide. She has worked tirelessly to bring communities to the table, to be inclusive. … I am excited to see what she does next.”
Helaine Barnett, Chair of the NYS Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, spoke about meeting Gaddis in 2010, and read letters from both former New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and current Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. Gaddis was appointed to the Task Force to Expand Access to Civil Legal Services in 2011 by Judge Lippmann, and remains involved in the now permanent commission.
“Thanks to Sheila, the Seventh Judicial District Help Center was established to handle the many civil legal questions from potential pro se litigants,” Barnett noted.
Sen. Joseph E. Robach was in attendance along with Mayor Lovely Warren, who presented a proclamation making March 8 “Sheila Gaddis Day.”
Other speakers for the evening included NYS Supreme Court Justice Ann Marie Taddeo, who shared a letter from Seventh Judicial District Administrative Judge Craig Doran.
The Hon. Ann Pfeiffer, former Brighton Town Supervisor Sandra Frankel, and Anthony Piazza from Barclay Damon LLP all shared their positive experiences.
“Sheila made us all proud. She encouraged us to be generous,” concluded Pfeiffer.
Dr. Twyla Cummings, senior associate dean and professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, shared her delight in having Gaddis settle in Rochester.
“I went door to door with Sheila when she was running for Town Council,” Cummings said. “She knows how to connect with people. I don’t know how she managed three major roles concurrently, but she always got things done.”
Other speakers included Alan Harris, retired Legal Aid Society of Rochester president; Laura Smalley, current VLSP board president; and Sharon Underberg of Eastman Kodak Co.