Give us your best elevator pitch – what does AVLF mean to you? Safe and stable homes and families. Easier said than done. What do you do when a friend calls and says her spouse has been abusing her for years? How do you respond when you find out her hand had not been cut in an accident at the house (as you previously understood) but had been cut to the bone holding the blade of a knife to prevent it from being pushed into her sternum by her husband? What is your reaction when you find out how many times her life had been threatened with a gun and how many times she had feared for the safety of her children because of her husband’s abuse? How do you process the range of emotions when you learn the physical abuse was just the tip of the iceberg and the emotional and mental abuse was far worse? I got that call.
Jenni Stolarski, Safe Families Office alum and DeKalb County Chief Assistant Solicitor-General, posted the following text on her Facebook page following the recent Amber Alert, and she was kind enough to let us share it with you. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Thank you, Michael. Unless perhaps you are Donald Trump, it is hard to listen to someone overstate your virtues, but thank you for believing at least some of what you just shared. Thank you for making my job so easy and so much fun. And please know that I learn as much from you as you claim you do from me. For example, because of you, I know the difference between Run The Jewels and Run DMC, and between Killer Mike and Mike Tyson. Thank you for pumping up my street creds! You are a great lawyer and a great friend.
Rick Deane, it is an honor to share the day with you. Congratulations on all that you and your firm have accomplished, and I thank you for joining with Walt Davis and Ashley Heintz and Ken Smith and others who make Jones Day and AVLF such a strong partnership.
Give us your best elevator pitch – what does AVLF mean to you? Our nation’s most serious gap in professional services is providing legal advice and representation to people just above the poverty line. They do not usually qualify for public assistance but they cannot afford an attorney’s services, even for crises such as domestic violence and evictions. AVLF is one of the key organizations bridging that gap in Fulton and Clayton Counties.
Whenever anyone asks me what I do for a living, I have a standard answer: “I work for a non-profit that provides pro bono legal services to low-income Atlantans.” If it seems like the person is still listening, I’ll throw in, “We do civil work – typically landlord-tenant and domestic violence issues.”
That’s not really what I do, though.
Imagine this: You’ve reached the end of your work day and you’re heading home. You shut down your computer, grab your briefcase and umbrella, and head to your car. As you ease out of the parking garage and into Atlanta rush hour traffic, you start thinking about what’s waiting for you at home. What do you have in the fridge for dinner? What veggies did you pick up at the grocery store last weekend? Should you splurge and order delivery? Or if your other half beat you home, maybe dinner will be coming together already, something simmering on the stove, delicious smells radiating from the hot oven. You make a mental note to throw a load of laundry into the washing machine before sitting down to eat.
How did you get involved with AVLF? I attended a pro bono training program hosted at King & Spalding by the former head of the Safe Families Office, Liz Whipple. She was fantastic! I soon learned her infectious enthusiasm for AVLF is a common attribute of the staff.
Quick snapshot: I am the Managing Attorney for Environmental Litigation and Policy at Southern Company. Prior to that, I managed a group of lawyers at Georgia Power, and I began my career as an environmental lawyer at Morris, Manning & Martin. Before working as a lawyer, I was a newspaper reporter. I graduated from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Journalism, from Columbia University with an M.S. in Journalism, and from the University of Michigan for law school. I sit on the board of the Chattahoochee Nature Center, which is one of the most beautiful spots in metro Atlanta, and just retired from the board of Buckhead Christian Ministry, a wonderful ministry that provides assistance to the working poor.
How did you get involved with AVLF? I participated in a Domestic Violence (now Safe Families) training 10 years ago and was hooked. I had prior volunteer experience as a domestic violence crisis counselor, and AVLF offered a great opportunity to serve that community that was so close to my heart.
Safety. And Stability.
If there is a way to condense what the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation means to those in our community who depend on AVLF for access to a lawyer, it might be those two words.
I offer these words not to add my voice to the swell of candidates’ screams about how we make our nation more secure. But I do urge that while the larger questions play out, there is much that we, the staff of AVLF, and you, the volunteers, donors, and supporters of the Foundation have done and can do, every day, to enhance the places we live, which in turn makes us a more just and more peaceful society.