A Seat at the Bar: Growing Gratitude: CAN Offers Opportunities to Give Back
by Arax Corn
I found the CAN Committee when I moved to Colorado last January. As a new attorney in my home state of Missouri, I had spearheaded public service projects via the Young Lawyers’ Section, which is the primary service arm of the bar association there. Imagine my excitement in connecting with an entire committee dedicated to providing valuable legal, educational, social, and civic assistance to those in need.
When a layperson’s perception of lawyers may come via TV shows or (god forbid) lawyer jokes, it’s refreshing to show the public at large that lawyers are real people—real people who really pitch in to make an impact in the community where we all live. CAN members and volunteers put a friendly face to our profession—one that some people only interact with when unfortunate events such as divorce or death call for legal help.
The impact of CAN’s contributions to the organizations it benefits cannot be understated. Originally committed to service projects once a quarter, the committee is growing its number and variety of projects. Because we work as a coordinated group, we can make a greater financial impact and a big difference in the donations we provide.
For example, November’s inaugural Strikes for Tykes event benefitted Children’s Outreach Project—a therapeutic preschool and child care center. CAN’s efforts surpassed fundraising goals and raised critical dollars for the therapeutic programming found at Children’s Outreach Project. In addition, there is zero administrative cost associated with the fundraising and drives through CAN, so 100 percent of the funds we raise go to the charity.
Celebrating 10 years as a DBA committee, CAN is relevant more than ever. Denver-area attorneys may recognize CAN events that have become annual staples—some highlights of CAN projects over the past year include:
• Strikes for Tykes: This bowling event to benefit the Children’s Outreach Project, which provides young children of all abilities early childhood education and affordable care. The 2011 event raised close to $5,000.
• Toothbrushes for Tots: CAN kicked off 2012 with a benefit for KIND (Kids in Need of Dentistry). KIND is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality, affordable dental care to children in need throughout Colorado. Dental supplies collected during the drive, including toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste, ensure that more than 4,000 children will have access to orthodontic care. During the weeklong drive, Feb. 6–10, Denver-area law firms donated more than $5,000 in dental items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss, as well as cash.
• April marks CAN’s annual “Roll Out the Barrels” food drive (April 16–27) to benefit Metro CareRing, which is a hunger relief organization offering urgent food assistance and other items for stabilizing individuals and families in need. During last year’s drive, 7,000 pounds of food and more than $40,000 were collected.
• In July and August, CAN holds its “Pack to School” drive to benefit students in the Educational Outreach Program of the Denver Public Schools, Comitis Family Services, and Children’s Outreach Project. These organizations serve underprivileged, homeless, and disabled student populations. Participating law firms collect new school supplies, which volunteers stuff into more than 300 backpacks. The students, along with their families, are invited to a day at the Denver Zoo (with free admission and a meal donated by the zoo), where the students receive a backpack filled with school supplies. Beyond the donations of crayons, glue, and composition notebooks, we are contributing to the students’ confidence that comes from being fully prepared for the school year.
As the needs of the Denver-area community grow and evolve, it is part of CAN’s mission to meet the changing needs of our community. We welcome suggestions for new projects. Most important, we invite you and your firm to participate in an upcoming CAN initiative. D
Arax Ruth Corn is an attorney in Denver and a member of the Denver Bar Association’s Community Action Network Committee.