Pro bono spotlight: A 'blessing' for seniors


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  • | 12:00 p.m. November 2, 2015
Patrice Ocasio, Tiffany Poore and Chris Roland assist a senior citizen at Pablo Hamlet Senior Residential Center in October.
Patrice Ocasio, Tiffany Poore and Chris Roland assist a senior citizen at Pablo Hamlet Senior Residential Center in October.
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“It’s really wonderful that you’re doing this,” said one senior citizen at the Clay County Council on Aging.

“I just can’t believe that you’re all here to help us. You don’t have to do this and you are,” said another at Pablo Hamlet Senior Residential Center in Duval County.

Pro bono attorneys, paralegals and law students in the 4th Judicial Circuit continue to join forces to help ensure area senior citizens have the support of people they trust as they manage their health, housing and financial matters.

The Advance Directives for Seniors projects are presented in three segments. In the first segment, a pro bono attorney speaks in a group information session at the residential facility.

For the events at Pablo Hamlet and the Council on Aging, Debbie Lee-Clark and Bruce Bickner were the presenting attorneys.

Senior citizens gathered to hear about the purpose of each of these advance directive documents: durable power of attorney, designation of health care surrogate, designation of pre-need guardian and a living will.

Seniors who wanted to have the documents created worked with Teresa Swanner, the service coordinator at Pablo Hamlet, to schedule a time to meet with an attorney Oct. 17.

Seniors in Clay scheduled appointments with Shereen Snare, marketing, development and community relations manager, to meet with attorneys Oct. 22.

Document creation at a single event is the second segment. At the two locations, 20 senior citizens completed documents.

The third segment provides assistance for seniors who were unable to attend the group document creation event but indicated they would like to have the service.

The following attorneys provided free legal counsel at Pablo Hamlet: Lisa DiFranza, Debbie Lee Clark, Jamie Olinto, Tiffany Poore, Jennifer Owen, John Humes and Christopher Roland.

Paralegal Donna Hoffman notarized documents and scanned executed documents for archiving in the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid case management system.

These paralegals and notaries drafted and executed documents: Lisa Hunt, Margaret Costa and Donna Jones.

Florida Coastal Law School students also assisted: Susanne Menke, Patrice Ocasio and Bradley Botko.

At the Council on Aging, the following attorneys participated: Christean Hollinger, Bruce Bickner, Raye Blair, Hailey Hatcher, Elizabeth Teelon, Monica Mercer, Kelsea Eckert and Lisa Dasher.

Paralegals Sherri Vardas, Rita Geer and Joy Haney also assisted with the event.

Sincere appreciation is extended to the Duval and Clay volunteer teams for stepping up for senior citizens.

The Advance Directives for Seniors Pro Bono Project will begin its fifth year of service in 2016. Seniors throughout Northeast Florida are provided valuable legal assistance at HUD residential centers, medical clinics and Council on Aging campuses.

At the Clay event, an appreciative senior told her pro bono attorney, “Without you I never would have been able to get this done. My children and I are very relieved and grateful. You are a blessing.”

Attorneys interested in these and other pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit are encouraged to contact Para at [email protected].