Upon first learning that I am an attorney, a non-attorney friend said to me, “despite all of the stereotyped joke opportunities, lawyers do a lot of good in this world.” He is right. Lawyers do much good in this world, and I am fortunate to be personally acquainted with a great number of them whose generosity of time, talent, and treasure directly benefits our community and our profession.
2012 was a whirlwind of a year. It was the first year that the Indianapolis Bar Foundation Board reached out to the prior year’s class of Distinguished Fellows and specifically invited them to serve as Foundation committee volunteers. We were pleasantly surprised to find that 100% of the 2011 class of Distinguished Fellows identified at least one committee on which to serve. The overwhelming response was proof positive that the Foundation’s donors strongly support the Foundation’s mission, and that they are willing to continue that support not just through charitable donations, but also through donations of their time and talent.
Early in the year, the Board, through its committees, began planning for its two annual fundraising events, the IBF Lawyer Links Classic and the Evening Under the Stars dinner/auction. Both events require significant planning, and their respective committees tackled with zeal the many challenges that arise during the planning stages.
Also early in the year, we met to nominate the 2012 class of Distinguished Fellows, who are a select group of members of the local legal community nominated by their peers based on their significant contributions to the legal profession or their communities at large. Importantly, they are also individuals who are willing to make a commitment to support the Foundation monetarily. The Foundation was pleased and privileged to add 27 Distinguished Fellows to its ranks last year.
In the spring, the Foundation awarded a single $35,000 grant to Reach for Youth to fund expansion of their successful Teen Court program. Specifically, grant funds supported a part-time Teen Court coordinator, whose role is to train student jury members at various schools (rather than at Reach for Youth offices). The coordinator’s goal is to encourage independent running of the program at each school, so that the program can benefit as many teens as possible without the need of a paid staff member.
For the first time in 2012, the Foundation sought input from you – its donors – in making the final determination regarding who would receive the substantial grant. The Board’s Impact Fund Committee reviewed grant applications and narrowed 16 grant applicants down to two groups who met grant criteria. We then reached out to all Distinguished and Senior Fellows and asked them to vote on the final recipient. Reach for Youth emerged the front-runner in a very close vote. Its Teen Court program boasts a recidivism rate of 16%, compared to 39% in the traditional system. All donors to the Foundation can be proud that grant funds supported this worthwhile program.
With summer came our golf outing, which was a success, thanks to our sponsors, participants, and the hard work of the Board’s Golf Committee. Thirty-one teams braved the threatening thunderstorms and enjoyed themselves for an afternoon of golf among friends, colleagues, and a handful of new faces.
There was no time to bask in the glow of a successful golf outing, however, because Evening Under the Stars planning kicked immediately into high gear. 2012 was the first year I sat on the Dinner Committee, and I was in awe of the amount of work each Committee member put in to make the event a success. We gathered for the first time at the Scottish Rite Cathedral for the event, and the venue was a hit. Attendees marveled at the gorgeous surroundings while bidding on silent and live auction items.
Following closely on the heels of the Evening Under the Stars, various Foundation committee members met again to nominate the 2012 class of Senior Fellows. Senior Fellows are nominated based on their continued outstanding dedication to the welfare of their communities and to the highest principles of the legal profession. At this writing, we were able to confirm 29 new Senior Fellows, each of whom made a commitment to continue their strong support of the Foundation.
Although we enjoy ourselves as Board members, the substantial year-round fundraising efforts are undertaken not for fun, but because we believe it is important to contribute to the betterment of our profession and our local community. The bulk of funds raised go directly to the provision of legal services for the underprivileged in Marion County, and to support Indy area attorneys and law students through CLE, scholarships, mentoring, and more.
The Foundation was privileged in 2012 to have 25 volunteer Board members and dozens of additional volunteer committee members. Those volunteers have busy professional and personal lives, and their commitment to the Foundation and its efforts has been invaluable. Thank you to all Foundation volunteers, donors and sponsors for supporting our profession – your profession – and our local community! We look forward to your continued support in 2013.•