By Kevin Morrissey, Lewis & Kappes PC
As part of the leadership development curriculum of the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Bar Leader Series, the 25 members of Bar Leader Series Class X (BLS X) have been charged with creating, developing and executing service projects to benefit the Indianapolis community.
To this end, BLS X divided itself into five smaller groups based upon common interests. These common interests included various societal challenges, including Health & Fitness, Children’s Issues, Disabled Individuals, Women’s Issues, and Education. The groups then narrowed their focus within these broad categories according to their research of pressing needs within Indianapolis. To foster creativity and leadership, the Bar Association deliberately put few restrictions on the groups. The result is five inspired projects touching often overlooked segments of our city. I am proud to describe the five projects that have grown out of the hard work and planning of the 25 BLS X members.
Team 1 has described its project as “Women Helping Women.” On March 5, this group hosted an event at the Skyline Club to benefit Dress for Success Indianapolis and the Julian Center. Attendees were invited to donate professional accessories and attire for disadvantaged women, which will then be donated to women in need to promote their economic independence and career development. The Julian Center is a nonprofit organization focusing on counseling and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. According to my sources, this event was a smashing success and the group collected numerous donations to benefit both organizations.
Team 2 has partnered with Growing Near West to promote Health & Fitness within the Indianapolis community. This group is organizing an event on Saturday, May 11 that will include the planting of an urban garden in the morning and health fair in the afternoon. The fair will include numerous activities that promote health and longevity such as Zumba classes and healthy cooking demonstrations. The event is scheduled to take place at the Friendship West Side Center for Excellence in Indianapolis. Interested IndyBar members are welcome to attend.
Team 3 identified financial literacy and personal finance education of young people as its primary concern. Specifically, this project will educate local high school students about the day-to-day financial issues they will face immediately after high school. On April 8 and 15 these young lawyers will present seminars to construction trade classes at the Wayne Township Career Center. This Career Center serves students from 11 high schools, and Team 3 will offer four 30-minute presentations regarding insurance, budgeting, credit issues, loans, housing, and employment. The team will also create materials, including a CD/DVD of the curriculum from these presentations, to be donated to the Career Center for future use.
Team 4 has been dubbed “Team Kids” and will target its efforts to educate fifth grade students at Skiles Test Elementary School about bullying. This group will present a workshop concerning the damage bullying causes as well as the choices they have when faced with bullying to these students on April 19. Team 4 seeks to provide these students with some of the tools and knowledge to be proactive in confronting and stopping bullying. As part of this program, this team has organized an anti-bullying picture-drawing contest for the fifth graders that will include the presentation of an award to the winning submission on May 17.
Team 5 has chosen to focus on aiding the families of children with disabilities. This team has partnered with Indianapolis Public Schools and Damar Services to provide a resource guide for families of disabled children. Many of these families are unaware of the multitude of services and opportunities available to them and their children throughout Indianapolis. In addition to providing information resources, Team 5 has collected donations of goods and services to provide something of a “respite” for these families. These include meals, coupons for services, and gift cards to provide some relief to these disadvantaged families’ already overly-stressed checkbooks.
The Bar Leaders Series program has facilitated positive contributions in the Indianapolis area from the BLS X members. Be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming service project events and activities. Thanks to those who have already supported these events with their time and money. It has been a pleasure for me to see these attorneys donate their time, skill, and effort to benefit others. I am proud to call each of them my friend. I look forward to reporting the continued success of these projects.