In celebration of National Volunteer Week, April 12-18, and as we approach GiveNOLA Day, Tuesday, May 5, The Project is focusing on how our volunteers serve the many children that come to us as clients.
Whether through Child In Need of Care (CINC), Pro Bono & Juveniles (PB & J) or as part of other Family Law cases, our legal and lay volunteers make it happen when comes to opening doors.
Why do volunteers give their time, skills, and often their funds, to support The Project and the hundreds of other non-profits that rely on volunteers to fulfill their missions?
I love doing pro bono work because it makes me feel part of the New Orleans community. As an attorney and community member, I feel a strong obligation to assist families and, particularly, children.
For example, through The Pro Bono Project, I have been able to help family members obtain legal custody of children whose biological parents are absent or deceased.
Recently, I took a case in which I was able to help a long-time family friend and his wife gain legal custody of a fourteen-year-old boy whose mother died shortly after his birth and whose grandmother was no longer able to care for him.
The case was not time-consuming, but the rewards gained for everyone involved were exponential. The boy's mentor and his wife were thrilled with the outcome. The boy's grandmother was relieved that her grandson was in good hands with parents who could now make legal decisions for the boy regarding his health and education.
But, the radiance of the boy's face after he "officially" joined his new parents was priceless and is the reason that I love this type of legal work.
I do pro bono work with children and families because I also think it is important for them to have positive experiences with courts and our legal system. I have been very impressed with the domestic court sections of Orleans and Jefferson Parishes in handling these types of matters.
The Hearing Officer who handled this particular case interacted wonderfully with the family and encouraged the young man to participate fully in the hearing. The clients were gracious enough to circle back to The Pro Bono Project to let us know how their lives had improved as a result of this case. Doing pro bono work for children and families for me just makes sense. It's a good way for me to help strengthen our community and provide real help to families in need.
When volunteers step up and make it happen for The Project, it changes individuals, families and communities for the better. During National Volunteer Week, we salute and celebrate the service of our volunteers, as well as all those who give their time, talent and funds to non-profits across the world to create positive change in the lives of many.