Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Pay forward an ethos of giving

- By Adele Stone Adele Stone is the co-managing shareholde­r of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney’s Fort Lauderdale office, is on the board of the Broward Workshop and a founding member and past chairperso­n of the Executive Council of Legal Aid Services of Browar

Donors and volunteers are lauded for giving back to their communitie­s. Whether they write big checks or chair significan­t events, volunteers and donors are the backbone of charities and non-profits.

Most people who give of themselves are not doing it for the applause. They are not doing it for the recognitio­n or the networking or for their own benefit. They do it because it is the right thing to do. There is always a way to give, be it time, money, pro bono support, contacts or creative ideas. There is no lack of means to be helpful. It is not an overstatem­ent to say that our community would be healthier and more cohesive if each of us took just a moment to offer assistance to organizati­ons and individual­s in need.

To become meaningful­ly involved in a cause is to find the one cause that speaks to you. A charity should strike a chord in you, be compatible with your life’s philosophy. Once you are connected to the cause, be proactive — raise awareness, drive attention and urge friends, family, colleagues to understand why this is important to you. You can be an ambassador.

If you find the cause that is truly meaningful to you, it will come naturally to be a voice of caring and change.

Long ago, I became aware of the fact that vast numbers of people do not have access to the legal counsel that they desperatel­y need. I witnessed the difference legal services can make to people. As a result of these experience­s, I sought to become involved in a meaningful way. I was appointed to the Broward County Legal Aid board of directors. I founded its Executive Council and its annual fundraisin­g/ friend-raising event, the Bridge to Justice Breakfast.

One of my life’s commitment­s is giving back to my profession, and I’ve spent a good deal of time involved with the Florida Bar on many levels. And I’m not alone in my dedication. I’ve interacted with lawyers all over the state who likewise give back to our profession. I’ve developed a proud awareness that attorneys are remarkably charitable. Attorneys give money, they provide pro bono services, they dedicate countless hours to important and valued causes, and look around — they sit on numerous boards of charities in all communitie­s across the state. Ours is a profession where there are waiting lists for membership on many of the Florida Bar’s committees. Lawyers truly are an involved and work in a generous profession.

People who give tend to come from families with a giving environmen­t, and in turn they pass the culture of giving down to the next generation. My mother was very involved with charitable boards and fundraisin­g for many causes. My children have seen how important it is for me to help make our community strong, and so they too have a keen awareness of giving back.

Even those who may need the services of a charitable organizati­on, also can give back. When they get back on their feet they will find that volunteer time or a small affordable donation is a gratifying way to say thank you. While it may be a little worn, the term “pay it forward” says it all and says so much.

Winston Churchill summed it up best: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

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