First-Year Law Students Make Yearlong Commitment to Charities
If some Virginia Law students look a little hairier this month, it might be because they're honoring an age-old tradition — raising money for a good cause.
"No-Shave November" is just one of the campaigns students are participating in as part of the Student Bar Association First Year Council's new service initiative. Each first-year class section is adopting one of a dozen local or national nonprofit organizations, including those that promote education, offer health services to the underserved and support veterans. (Full list of charities)
With each section choosing a different charity, everyone can get passionate about something," said First Year Council President Emily Schirmer, who credited section L representative Brian Park with the idea for the campaign. Starting a new project can be daunting, but the sections have been enthusiastic about the opportunity to give back, and the students and faculty have been eager to help."
Harlem Lacrosse & Leadership Corp.
Law student Simon Cataldo of Section A co-founded Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership Corp. as a middle school special education teacher at Frederick Douglass Academy in New York City. The program encourages academically and emotionally challenged children to participate in a sport that is uncommon for the inner city — lacrosse — while offering academic intervention, boarding school admissions counseling and mentoring services as well.
The principal asked me to start a lacrosse program because it's a team sport and can help get kids into private boarding schools and colleges," Cataldo said.
His section representatives at UVA nominated the program because they knew of his involvement, currently as president of the board of directors. He started the team in 2008, primarily with students from the math class he taught.
More than 80 UVA students, joined by Virginia Law professor Anne Coughlin, turned out Nov. 4 for their first fundraiser at McGrady's restaurant in Charlottesville The event raised enough money to send eight children from Harlem and the South Bronx to summer camp in New Hampshire, he said.
He added that the popularity of lacrosse at the University of Virginia has been a strong tie-in for the section's efforts.
Notably, Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership has two UVA alumni in ongoing roles that support its missions.
Peter Kaufman '78 recently joined the board of directors and organized a team trip to Yale University in April, and Charles Gildehaus '91, president of Concord-Carlisle (Massachusetts) Youth Lacrosse, established a social leadership initiative between the players in Harlem and Concord-Carlisle.
'No-Shave November' for the Charlottesville Free Clinic
While the charities the First Year Council supports are serious, one section is taking a lighter approach to raising money. Section L is supporting the Charlottesville Free Clinic not by what they're doing, but by what they're not doing during No-Shave November.
For 50 cents a day, section members and other volunteers have pledged to go the whole month without shaving their faces. A "fine" of $10 will be levied for anyone who wishes to bow out early.
While the men may be the face" of the effort, Section L women have spearheaded the campaign's awareness, outreach and donor recruitment efforts, law student Samantha Folb said.
"The ladies of section L have really stepped up and taken the reins in sponsoring the guys so that we can actually monetize the event and raise some funds," she said.
"We've had great success with the event so far," Folb said. "We have participants from other sections who are growing beards and sponsoring our section members."
Folb said it was important for her group to choose a reputable organization with a significant portion of its annual budget going to the community. The Charlottesville Free Clinic provides free primary medical care, prescription medications and acute dental care for working uninsured adults and their families in the Charlottesville area.
During the 2010 fiscal year, the clinic's volunteer health providers treated 1,142 patients, and about 80 percent of those visits were for primary care, according to the clinic's annual report. Operating expenses have been kept to around $700,000 a year, according to its website.
"They do a lot with a really tiny budget," Folb said.
"For those considering a last-minute donation to Section L for No-Shave November, you can give at networkforgood.org. Remember to put UVA Section L in the Dedication or Gift box."
Wounded Warrior Project
As soldiers return home from Iraq and Afghanistan, another charitable organization that is on the minds of many — including the First Year Council's Section C — is the Wounded Warrior Project.
"We chose the organization for many reasons," law student Alex Foster said. "At the center of our choice was the deep respect and gratitude we feel for those who serve the United States in the Armed Forces. To give back to those who sacrificed so much, including their health, for us is something that I and other members of my section feel compelled and honored to do."
Wounded Warrior raises money for medical needs of seriously injured soldiers, provides programs that help them adapt to the new realities of their daily lives, and facilitates veterans aiding and assisting each other.
Foster said his section plans to host a night out at a local restaurant, from which a percentage of the proceeds will go to Wounded Warrior, as well as a run/walk, both in the spring. Details of these and other upcoming fundraisers will be posted to the Law School calendar as more details become available.
Follow the links below for more information about the charities supported by the First Year Council.
Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (Sections F)
Back on My Feet (Section J)
Camp Holiday Trails (Sections E)
Charlottesville Free Clinic (Section L)
Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville (Section H)
Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership Corp. (Section A)
Hole in the Wall Gang Camp (Section B)
Loudoun Interfaith Relief (Section G)
Ronald McDonald House Charlottesville (Section I)
Virginia Institute of Autism (Section D)
We, the Readers (Section K)
Wounded Warrior Project (Section C)
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.