- 2013 - December - 2nd -

The JBA Community Outreach Committee helps all year long

By Mike Duncan, Chair of The Jacksonville Bar Association's Community Outreach Section

Hopefully everyone enjoyed a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday. We are in the midst of the winter holiday season, and during this giving time of year, it is only natural to be thinking of and wanting to do for others within our community.

The committees that make up The JBA's Community Outreach Section are thinking and doing for others, not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year. I would like to introduce you to a couple of the Community Outreach Section committees and tell you just a bit about what they are doing.

The Civics Education program is headed up by Ray Driver. In conjunction with W.C. Gentry, the program has been developed to assist teachers with civics education. Specifically, through this program, The Jacksonville Bar Association is assisting Duval County schools teach civics by making JBA members available to assist in the classroom.

Our teachers have a difficult time already with teaching, and this program allows JBA members to help with their lesson plans and educate students on the importance of civics. If you are interested in helping out with the Civics Education program, please reach out to Ray Driver directly or contact The JBA office.

The Pro Bono Committee is chaired by Kathy Para of Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. The committee works extensively with several other JBA sections and committees in matching up volunteers with pro bono opportunities throughout our community.

Through Kathy's great leadership, JBA members have regularly been providing pro bono services to North Florida's neediest residents. However, the need remains great, and more volunteers can always be put to use. If you are interested in helping The JBA meet the pro bono needs of our community, please contact Kathy Para or The JBA office.

The Human Rights Committee is doing wonderful work educating the community on human rights concerns and issues. The committee is led by co-chairs Crystal Freed and Ada Hammond, who have done great work educating on a variety of human rights issues.

The committee provides opportunities for JBA members to learn more about, and to help combat, human rights problems in a number of ways, whether those problems concern prisoner's rights, human trafficking or other human rights concerns. Please contact Crystal, Ada or The JBA office if you would like to get involved with the committee.

The Military Law Committee is ably led by chair Sarah Toppi. The committee is relatively new to The Jacksonville Bar Association – only a couple of years young – but it has been making great strides in terms of its work.

While goals for the committee include providing continuing education seminars and community education programs, much of its work has been assisting the American Bar Association with its military pro bono project by connecting volunteers with military pro bono opportunities.

I strongly encourage you to consider joining the committee. Our nation is blessed to be served and protected by an all-volunteer military, and the service men and women, along with their families, sacrifice so much so that we may enjoy safety and freedom.

The North Florida community is particularly fortunate to include, as citizens, a large number of active duty, reserve and retired military personnel. Unfortunately, some of them, and their families, need legal assistance and cannot afford it.

The committee was formed, in part, to educate on these issues and to help provide a means by which these needs might be served. Please contact Sarah Toppi or The JBA office if you would like to be involved with the Military Law Committee.

As this year's chair of the Community Outreach Section, I am proud of the work these committees and the others with the section are doing, and I invite any JBA members interested to participate in one or more of them. Please have a healthy and happy holiday season.

Mike Duncan is a partner at Gillis Way & Duncan LLP.

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