By Thomas A. Brophy, president emeritus at Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, P.C., and president of the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.
How well could you live on $25,100 a year? That’s the 2018 federal poverty line for a family of four. More than a quarter of Philadelphians live in poverty, and nearly half of those live in deep poverty, defined as 50% below the federal poverty line. Moreover, only one in five low-income individuals and families receive the civil legal assistance needed for critical problems affecting their lives. As Bobby Kennedy remarked in 1964, “We have secured the acquittal of an indigent person — only to abandon him to eviction notices, wage attachments, repossession of goods and termination of welfare benefits.” These barriers to justice ultimately compromise the ability to exercise basic rights and fully participate in our economic and civic systems. As lawyers, we have an obligation to recognize the gaps in access to justice, and to ensure that wherever we can break down barriers, we do.
The organizations that the Philadelphia Bar Foundation funds provide vital services that assure equal access to justice for our neighbors in Philadelphia. More than 60,000 clients receive direct services annually from the non-profit legal aid organizations funded by the Philadelphia Bar Foundation.
In order to raise funds for our annual grant-making, the Bar Foundation relies on financial contributions from committed individuals and institutions. Your donation will ultimately help an individual or family obtain medical care that was otherwise unavailable, help an immigrant adjust their legal status, or perhaps allow a family to avoid mortgage foreclosure. For those people, your personal donation, directed by the Bar Foundation through its grants, is truly life-changing.
Whether you are a long-time supporter or are just learning about us for the first time, I encourage you to join me in making an end of year donation to the Bar Foundation. Whatever funds we raise this year will not be enough to meet all of the needs of the legal service organizations we support, or all of the people assisted by these organizations. However, the gift you provide in any amount will make a difference.
There are many ways to donate to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation before we designate our 2018 grants in December. The easiest way is to visit our website and click the “Donate Now” button in the upper-right hand corner of the page. You can also visit the “Support Us” section of the website to learn more about ways to give.
Donating to the Philadelphia Bar Foundation supports a number of critical civil legal aid issues affecting our city. The organizations that the Bar Foundation will provide 2018 grants to handle matters in:
• Anti-Poverty Advocacy
• Child Welfare, Education & Youth
• Health and Elder Justice
• Housing and Homeless Issues
• Immigration and Employment
• Justice and Court Reform
• Military, Veterans & Consumer Issues
• Women’s Rights & Disability Rights
For every dollar that we invest in legal aid, research shows that dollar yields an $11 benefit on average for individuals, families and communities. Legal issues that are successfully resolved result in improvements in family stability, safe housing, educational opportunities, health care, employment, increased income for food and clothing, and more.
Please support the Bar Foundation today with a gift before the end of December to assure that you make an impact on advancing equal access to justice in 2018. Thank you, we are grateful for your gifts.