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Lawyers help make holiday season bright for those in need

Dave Stafford
December 18, 2013
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For more than a decade, lawyers Will and Alicia Gooden have hosted a holiday party at their home and asked their attorney friends to bring a toy that could be donated to a worthy charity.

“Every year it got a little more packed,” said Will Gooden, a partner at Clark Quinn Moses Scott & Grahn LLP, and an Indianapolis city-county councilman. “It was a chaotic but fun atmosphere.”

Alicia Gooden, an attorney with The Mediation Group in Indianapolis, estimates the parties that she and her sister, Elizabeth Kallas, started years back have collected $25,000 to $35,000 worth of toys. But the events were outgrowing their home, so the Goodens this season chose to stage the event at Flat 12 Bierwerks in Indianapolis on a recent Saturday evening.
 

seasons-tree-15col.jpg Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP paralegal Jana Noble (left) and marketing and events specialist Jamie Caligiuri trim a patriotic-themed Christmas tree the firm sponsored during the City Sidewalks decorating contest Dec. 13 on Georgia Street in downtown Indianapolis. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

“We really wanted to see if this can be a springboard to something bigger and greater,” she said.

By all accounts, it could be. About 100 people turned out and donated more than 200 toys and hundreds of dollars to buy gift cards, Alicia Gooden said.

The Goodens aren’t alone among attorneys whose traditions of giving make a difference during the holidays.

“You need to give back to the community,” said Dave Hollenbeck, a partner with the Valparaiso general practice firm Blachly Tabor Bozik & Hartman LLC. He said that was a commitment when Quentin Blachly and Glenn Tabor founded the firm 52 years ago.

“It’s been instilled in all of us, and we attempt to instill it in all who come along,” Hollenbeck said.

So it is that the 40-plus attorneys and staff at the firm volunteer time each holiday season as bell-ringers for the Salvation Army at various locations around Porter County. Additionally, the firm each year adopts a family and provides toys and gifts.
 

Seasons_gifts-1col.jpg Attorney Alicia Gooden (center) and her sister, Elizabeth Kallas, deliver toys to Rex Fisher, director of development at the Shepherd Community Center on Indianapolis’ east side. Gooden and her husband, Will, who is also an attorney, host an annual toy drive. This year they held the drive at Flat 12 Bierwerks and collected more than 200 toys for the community center to give to children in need. (IL Photo/Dave Stafford)

“We selected Salvation Army to do this because we’ve always admired their commitment to taking care of those who for one reason or another are less fortunate than we are,” Hollenbeck said.

This year, the firm’s adopted family is a mother and father who lost their jobs and have three children to provide for. “The lists are long when the needs are great,” Hollenbeck said.

The Hollingsworth & Zivitz firm in Carmel continued a tradition this year when it adopted a family in need from among its clients and purchased gifts for them. The firm also collects for Toys for Tots drives and clothing for the Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis, said founding partner Kena Hollingsworth.

Those are things the firm has done for years, Hollingsworth said. But this year, lawyers at the firm added another charitable offering: The firm will donate 10 percent of its December profits to charity, she said.

“Small things, when you can come together, can make a really big difference in peoples’ lives,” Hollingsworth said.

Amy Wheatley, an attorney at the Law Office of Nick Stein in New Albany and president of the Floyd County Bar Association, said her firm began a tradition years back dispensing with holiday gift-giving and instead helping out those in need.

Each year, Wheatley said, lawyers and staff at the small practice select several children from the local Salvation Army Christmas Tree and go on a shopping spree for toys, clothing, coats and whatever else the children might need. “We all get together and wrap it up before we deliver it,” she said.

It’s a tradition that brings the firm together in the giving spirit of the season, “rather than spending money on something that we don’t need or some sort of food item that God knows we don’t need this time of year,” she said.

seasons-bellringing-15col.jpg Randall J. Zromkoski, an attorney at Blachly Tabor Bozik & Hartman LLC in Valparaiso, and his wife, Jo Ellen, ring bells for the Salvation Army, as does everyone at the firm. For decades, the firm has helped the Porter County charity in various ways during the holidays. (Photo submitted)

Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP marketing coordinator Caitlin Church said the firm annually conducts a loose change collection and directs the proceeds to those in need. This year, donations will go to the victims of November’s deadly tornados in Peoria, Ill.

Church said the firm also donated money to purchase a tree for the City Sidewalks Tree Decorating Contest on Georgia Street in Indianapolis. Proceeds from the event benefit the Pack the Pantries Food Drive. Barnes & Thornburg LLP also sponsored a tree in the contest.

Members of BGD’s Women’s Forum also collected donations for four charities: Coburn Place, which assists survivors of domestic violence; the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center; Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and Child Advocates Inc.

The gifts and proceeds the Goodens collected at their annual party this year will benefit families served by the Shepherd Community Center on Indianapolis’ near-east side. Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty in the community.

Rex Fisher, director of development at Shepherd, said the facility will open its doors for parents Dec. 21 and 23 to select toys they will wrap and take home to their children. He said the center usually distributes about 3,000 toys annually.

Fisher said the toys do much more than make a child’s Christmas special.

“This is really a way we can partner with our parents,” Fisher said. Being able to allow parents to provide Christmas for children, “that’s a big deal,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to connect our staff with parents and form a deeper relationship.”

“This is all about making kids happy and giving a little joy at a time when there might not be a lot of joy in their lives,” Alicia Gooden said.•

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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