To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel :
A Day of Family Service
The Houston Bar Association's 11,500 members contribute more than 45,000 volunteer hours to HBA-sponsored community service projects annually, proof that our members are committed to serving both the legal profession and the community. Many of those service projects enjoy long histories in Houston. For instance, our pro bono program, the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program, turns 30 this year. Our Campaign for the Homeless Coat and Warm Clothing Drive celebrates 20 years. Professionalism Day and the Mentor/Protégé Program, aimed at law students and newly licensed attorneys, respectively, are 15 years old. These long-standing programs are a source of great pride for our members.
As I looked back on my own volunteer work in planning programs for the HBA, it struck me that I have most enjoyed performing service during those times in which I have included my children, and the opportunity to work with my kids on a project has made me more inclined to volunteer.In addition to enjoying being together, I have seen other benefits - my children really understand how fortunate they are, exhibit empathy about the plights of others who are less fortunate, and are more comfortable with people from all walks of life. Studies confirm that children with parents who model volunteering and community service behaviors and who encourage their children to donate their time to help others are more likely to demonstrate such behavior and attitudes as they grow older.
On April 21, 2012, the Houston Bar Association will afford our members with an opportunity to spend a Saturday morning volunteering with their families in "A Day of Family Service." Children from toddlers to teens will be welcome to participate in age-appropriate activities designed to serve others in ten locations throughout the city. By volunteering with their kids, not only will attorneys have an enjoyable morning with their families, but they will leave a lasting impression on their children while helping others.
Some of the projects we perform together will be longstanding programs; others will be new. From donations to our annual Spring Children's Clothing and Diaper Drive, we will sort clothes into boxes marked for infants, children and teens, and stack up disposable diapers based on the sizes requested by community organizations that serve children and families, including Star of Hope, Covenant House and the Houston Area Women's Center. We will work alongside our older teens (16 and up) on our 15th house through Habitat for Humanity Houston. Kids of all ages can help us clean up a local park, picking up trash and helping to spread mulch. Younger children will have fun helping their parents put together "birthday cake kits" for children who would not otherwise have a celebration. Other programs will focus on schools and helping our military veterans.
While "A Day of Family Service" is a one-time project this year, it is my hope that it will inspire our members to find ways to continue to involve their families in community service. If you would like more information about our project, or if you want to know how it all turned out after April 21, please feel free to contact me through the Houston Bar Association.