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Giselle Carson
Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 4, 2016 1 year ago

Bar Bulletin: The Jacksonville Bar Association has the power to transform

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by: Giselle Carson

In 1848, primarily through the giving of Joshua Bates, a Bostonian merchant and banker, the Boston Public Library was founded.

This is the oldest free public city library in the world and the first to allow its patrons to borrow books. Prior to its founding, libraries were opened only to a select few.

The founding of the BPL transformed the lives of many who otherwise might not have had access to reading materials.

In 1851, a group of citizens led by retired Boston sea Capt. Thomas Valentine Sullivan noticed a need to create a safe gathering place for sailors and merchants, and founded the first YMCA in the U.S.

They were inspired by the London YMCA, which was established in 1844.

As a result, YMCAs continue to transform and improve the mind, body and spirit of individuals and families in communities across the country.

In 1897, a group of visionary attorneys formed The Jacksonville Bar Association to maintain the honor and dignity of our profession, regulate the practice and promote improvements in the law and its administration, and cultivate professional ethics and social ties among the members.

Since its inception, the JBA has been positively transforming and making a meaningful difference for our members and community.

As I reflect on my tenure as president, one of my measures of success is how our organization continues to give back and positively impact our community and members.

Every day, our members donate their time, energy, expertise and money to make an impact, share expertise, learn new skills, strengthen our community, meet others and improve health.

Making an impact

Our Young Lawyers Section is all about making an impact.

Under the leadership of Lindsay Tygart with Edwards & Ragatz, P.A., and Christian George with Akerman LLP, our YLS events are making a lasting difference in our community.

The charity golf tourney, poker tournament and Chili-Cook Off (chaired by Alexandria Hill with Gray Robinson) raised over $37,000, which was donated to the JT Townsend Foundation, K9s for Warriors and Community Connections.

Additionally, under the leadership of Amanda Thomas with Driver, McAfee, Peek & Hawthorne, P.L., Michael Lockamy with the Bedell Firm and Ryan Hyde with Thames, Markey & Heekin, P.A., the YLS, in partnership with the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, hosted its Holidays in January and donated 20 bicycles and other gifts to children identified by Family Support Services.

These are just a few examples of how our YLS is transforming our community.

Sharing expertise

We all have skills that can benefit others.

Our Pro Bono Committee, under the leadership of Kathy Para with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Laura Boeckman with the Office of the Attorney General, has conductedĀ more than 10 Ask-A-Lawyer and Advance Directive for Seniors events, where 15 to 50 residents are helped at each meeting.

Our members share their time and expertise at Saturday clinics with community members to help draft estate planning documents and answer questions relating to contracts, family law, foreclosure, employment, probate and other areas of law.

Learning new skills

Interested in learning what it takes for a U.S. legal permanent resident to become a U.S. citizen? Why not volunteer for the Law Day Committee’s Citizenship Day?

Our Law Day Committee, under the leadership of Emily O’Leary with Foley & Lardner LLP and John Wallace with Moseley, Prichard, Parrish, Knight & Jones, have many outstanding Law Day celebratory events, including Citizenship Day, a swearing-in ceremony for new U.S. citizens, a poster contest with students from local elementary schools and an art supply and toiletries drive to benefit local schools and Downtown Ecumenical Services.

At Citizenship Day on April 9, more than 100 legal immigrants will receive assistance with completing the U.S. Naturalization Application.

Several pro bono attorneys, paralegals and law students will work as teams in shifts to bring this amazing event to life.

It is not too late to participate in Citizenship Day — contact Kathy Para for information on getting involved.

StrengtheningĀ our community

Under the leadership of Shea Moser with Moseley, Prichard, Parrish, Knight & Jones and Tony Zebouni with Regan, Whelan, Zebouni & Atwood, our Community Outreach section is making our community stronger, healthier and happier.

Last December, our Senior Holiday Project Committee, under the leadership of Alessandro Apolito with Brennan, Manna & Diamond, LLC, and John C.W. Cherneski with Milam, Howard, Nicandri, Dees & Gillam, P.A., and in collaboration with Meals On Wheels and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, granted the holiday wishes of about 400 seniors.

These citizens benefited from our members’ donations of blankets, clothing, food, and even more important — cheerful and warm visits during the holiday season.

On April 28, under the leadership of Cyndy Trimmer with Ansbacher Law, Megan Kelberman with Gunster and Jessica Mathis with Wicker, Smith, O’Hara, McCoy & Ford P.A., the eighth annual celebration of Rendezvous on the River will take place.

This is the fifth consecutive year the proceeds from this event will benefit Dreams Come True, a local charity.

As in years past, the event will raise money to bring hope and joy to one First Coast child battling a life-threatening illness.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available for Rendezvous on the River.

If you are looking to give a donation and/or would like to help give back to a worthwhile cause, we urge you to consider donating to this event.

You may contribute by contacting Cyndy, Megan, Jessica or the JBA.

Meeting others

Looking to broaden your network?

Giving back and being engaged, even if electronically, is a great way to connect with others.

During the fall, the JBA launched our Social Media Campaign, which was coordinated by our very own JBA staff, Carla Ortiz-Ramos and Julia McCormack, to promote the electronic connections of our members.

As a result, over $5,000 was presented by the JBA to JALA to raise awareness of both organizations.

Improving health

I could not speak about transforming lives and giving back, and not speak about its beneficial impact on health.

Research shows that doing something positive for others stimulates the release of endorphins.

Many people report a “high” from volunteering, similar to the positive feeling that results from exercise.

Volunteering is not only an excellent way to help others feel better, but it makes us physically healthier, lowers our stress and helps us live happier more fulfilled lives.

I am especially thankful to Alison H. Sausaman with Marks Gray, P.A. and County Judge Eleni Derke for giving their time and energy to improve the health and serenity of our members through our Tuesday Walk and Talk events held every other week at 5:30 p.m. and Yoga for Legal Warriors.

I hear the last Yoga for Legal Warriors created a very positive buzz in the Duval County Courthouse. I hope to see many of you at our next session on April 29.

I am grateful and thankful for our sections, committees and individual members that, much like the visionaries who founded the BPL and YMCA, work tirelessly to make an impact and transform lives in our community every day.

Giselle Carson is president of The Jacksonville Bar Association and an attorney at Marks Gray.

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