The Liberty Bell Award was presented to Aida Seeraj, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Inspire to Rise Inc.
The Jacksonville Bar Association presents the annual Law Day recognition to someone who isn’t an attorney but has made significant contributions to the legal community or the community at large.
A native of Juncos, Puerto Rico, Seeraj came to the U.S. with her family and grew up in Southwest Florida.
Seeraj’s first experience with community service was in 1990, when she volunteered with Special Olympics while in high school.
She also participated in missionary work helping orphaned children and leprosy patients in Ecuador.
After graduating from the University of Dallas in 1998, Seeraj moved to South Florida and then Jacksonville to work for the Florida Department of Children and Families in child welfare, quality management and administration.
In 2010, she became women and families program director at Sulzbacher, a homeless services provider.
Seeraj later became the nonprofit’s executive director of its sibling foster care program.
She was executive director in the Jacksonville office of Daytona Beach-based Neighbor to Family Inc., which served abused and neglected children in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina, from 2012 before establishing Inspire to Rise in January 2019.
With the slogan, “Strengthening Families Through Services,” the nonprofit coordinates local and state programs that help children, teens and families access community resources such as mental health services, life skills and parenting education, tutoring, resource connections, arts programs and mentoring.
In partnership with LSF Health Systems and Overdose Data to Action Duval County, Inspire to Rise is a licensed substance abuse treatment provider for prevention, intervention, case management and outpatient services.
In September 2019, the Jacksonville City Council approved a $98,000 grant to allow the nonprofit Volunteers in Medicine to staff a free clinic two days a week at Inspire to Rise’s headquarters at 5927 Old Timuquana Road in West Jacksonville.
In addition, Inspire to Rise is supported by The Partnership for Mental Health, a project of Baptist Health and the Delores Barr Weaver Fund.