Every day we hear stories of heroes who make our world a better place to live. There is no model for a hero. They come in all kinds of packages. Police officers, firemen, and armed forces personnel come to mind for most of us when thinking of heroes. But at The Florida Bar Foundation, we recognize that heroes can be found in other roles. Heroes in our world do not usually get news coverage and often get no recognition. That is why I am always excited by the stories of our heroes in Speaking of Justice.
In this issue, you will meet two lawyers, heroes in our world, who have made a difference in the lives of a mother of a disabled child and a retired person who lost her retirement savings to an investment scam. Ericka Garcia, a Guardian ad Litem attorney with the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association and Dorothy Negrin, a pro bono attorney who volunteers for Dade Legal Aid’s “Put Something Back” program, each contributed to helping a family or individual solve a problem that was seemingly overwhelming. Ericka and Dorothy are heroes in my world, and I think they will be in yours as well.
But heroes also do things in other ways. The Florida Bar Foundation received a second gift of $75,000 from The Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Section. This makes Section Chair Wayne Helsby and every member of the Trial Lawyers Section a hero to me. This is such a generous gift in a time when funding is down, so we count ourselves fortunate to have such heroes.
On January 31, the Florida Supreme Court hosted the 31st Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award and the Florida Bar President’s Pro Bono Service Awards in Tallahassee. As I sat and listened to all the amazing contributions made by the individuals being recognized and heard from Chief Justice Ricky Polston that Florida lawyers contributed over 1,700,000 hours of pro bono service, I realized that there are many more heroes giving of their time and energy to ensure that the justice system works best when it works for all of us. These pro bono contributions are always needed but in this time when funding cuts are requiring our primary service organizations to reduce staff and take fewer cases, I am delighted to know there are so many lawyers willing to help.
I feel energized by these stories of heroism and hope you will as well. I also pledge to work harder to support the efforts of The Foundation and its grantees and hope that you will as well so that we can continue to bring you more stories of heroism. As always, I thank you for your support.
Maria E. Henderson, President