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Campaign for Justice co-chairs focus on community needs

By: Nora A. Jones//December 12, 2018

Campaign for Justice co-chairs focus on community needs

By: Nora A. Jones//December 12, 2018//

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Sharon Stiller

The 2018 Campaign for Justice was just shy of 50% of its goal on Dec. 7 — one month into this year’s campaign to support Volunteer Legal Services Inc. of Monroe County (VLSP), Legal Aid Society of Rochester (LAS) and Legal Assistance of Western New York (LawNY).

Dozens of volunteers have been making calls, reaching out to past donors and looking to recruit new donors. This year’s Campaign Cabinet is headed by three dynamic leaders who each lead with action in addition to words.

Jonathan Falk

Co-Chairs Sharon Stiller (Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara & Wolf LLP , Thomas Durkin (Allstate Insurance), and Jonathan Falk (LAS) use their specific skills and resources to target new donors and new dollars to help the campaign reach its $260,000 goal.

New donor challenge

Sharon Stiller has been a loyal supporter of the Campaign for Justice for many years. To encourage new donations, she has generously offered to match the pledge of all new donors from now until the end of the year.

“New donors include individuals, law firms, corporate counsel, businesses — anyone who has not donated to CFJ for more than three years,” explained VLSP Executive Director Tina Foster. “This does not include individuals at law firms with in-house solicitation efforts already in place.”

Thomas Durkin

It’s a great incentive for first-time donors to get more bang for their buck.

“Access to justice is critical to a democracy,” Stiller said. “We have established a rule of law where the last resort and the protector of those who need protection is the court system, but access to it cannot be one-sided.

“It is up to us what kind of society we want to create. We have the ability to create a better society by giving sufficient funds to support legal services. The more we support legal service providers, the better off we are as a society.”

Corporate matching programs

Tom Durkin, another long-time supporter of civil legal services, reached out to The Allstate Foundation, securing a $500 “Helping Hands Grant.”

The Allstate Foundation supports the causes that Allstate agency owners, financial specialists, and employees care about – to bring about good in the community.

“The Allstate Foundation is proud to honor the community service of Thomas Durkin,” the Allstate Foundation stated in a recent press release.

“Allstate has long supported giving back to the community, and encouraged its employees to do the same,” noted Durkin. “Like Allstate, we are hopeful other corporate counsel are able to check whether their corporations may match donations or provide grants. Unfortunately, the Rochester area has a high number of families living in poverty, unable to afford legal services, so this is why the Campaign For Justice is so important.”

Younger donors

For the fifth year, a Law Firm Challenge focused on attorneys under the age of 40 has been used to spread the word about the campaign to attorneys in their early years of their careers.

This year’s challenge included 15 law firms and organizations, and ran from Nov. 7 to Dec. 5. The firms were grouped into three teams, mixing small, medium and large offices to put the number of “under 40” attorneys at just over 80 attorneys per team.

“The goal was to encourage even more philanthropy among the younger local attorneys, familiarizing them with the importance of the CFJ and making a habit of giving,” noted Jonathan Falk, whose day job at LAS keeps him aware of the community’s pervasive needs. “I am proud to have had Jon Ferris and Mike Wegman continue this tradition of giving, donating their time and talent to such a worthwhile cause.”

The Challenge and its Recognition Social were planned and orchestrated by Jon Ferris with Thomas & Solomon LLP, and Michael Wegman with Lacy Katzen LLP.

Nora A. Jones is a Rochester-based freelance writer.


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