A Chapter of the Women's Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY)
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President's Message - April 2021

by Hon. Lisa Margaret Smith

It is April now, flowers are emerging, birds are singing, and those of us who like to garden are hoping that the last hard freeze is behind us (though as I type these words there is still snow on the ground, so my words are hopeful rather than actual). The Jewish celebration of Passover has begun, it ends April 4, which happens to be Easter in most Christian churches in the United States, with Greek Orthodox Easter falling on April 19, whereas Russian Orthodox Easter will be on May 2. Ramadan begins April 12 and lasts to May 12.

April celebrations are myriad, and I’ll mention just a few of the non-religious ones – April Fool’s Day is, of course, on April 1, along with National Burrito Day. April 2 is Autism Awareness Day. April 4 is National Hug a Newsperson Day, while April 5 is Deep Dish Pizza Day. For participants in our February Step Challenge, April 7 is National Walking Day. April 10 is National Siblings Day, so call, text, or email your brothers and sisters on that day. April 12 is National Grilled Cheese day, April 15, along with being Tax Day, is National High Five Day. April 19 is Bicycle Day, April 22 is Earth Day, and April 25 is World Penguin Day. April 28 is the World Day for Safety and Health at Work (tell your bosses), April 29 is Duke Ellington Day, and April 30 is Arbor Day, so plant a tree! April is also National Humor Month, National Poetry Month, Records and Information Management Month, and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, among many others.

As you can see, we could celebrate something every day in April if we chose to do so. My hope is that you celebrate being a member of WWBA, and that you do so by finding a way to “Give Back.” During my speech for my virtual installation on June 17, 2020, I defined my goal for my year as WWBA President like this:

My goal for WWBA for this upcoming year is for us to give back to our community, and to our society, in every way possible, with an emphasis on being inclusive, transparent, and thoughtful in everything we do, including being particularly thoughtful about our use of language, and the larger impact of the things that we do and say, not just what we do and say with the WWBA, but also what we do and say as a part of the legal profession. We can and must be a part of the solution to the turbulence that currently affects our world. We will accomplish this goal by doing what we already do, by giving continuing legal education programs for our legal community, by supporting and educating young people in ways including our existing Law Day and Read Across America programs, by serving as mentors for law students through the WWBA mentor program, by supporting the provision of meals for our hospital workers, . . . and by making sure that these efforts are always totally inclusive and transparent.

WWBA members have done a great deal to give back this year; we have volunteered at the Hillside Food Pantry, we have contributed to providing supplies for displaced pets, we have supported voter registration and get out the vote efforts, we have, as noted in my installation remarks, helped to feed hospital workers, we have continued our mentor program for law students, we have participated in the Read Across America program, and of course we have organized myriad CLE and other programs for the legal community. We are currently sponsoring and supporting a Career Transition Task Force to provide a wide variety of assistance to people in the community, especially women, who have lost jobs in the pandemic, to help provide them with the resources to seek a job, and then to connect them with those who may need additional employees. We have provided judges and coaches for Mock Trial and Moot Court events, we have served as panelists for WWBA events as well as events put on by other Associations. I have also contributed to my local food pantry, as I am sure many of you have, and I have regularly visited and corresponded with a 90-year-old shut-in. It is my hope that each of you has found, or will find, your own way to Give Back to the community.

My request to each of you as we enjoy the spring weather is that you find one more way to Give Back to the community before our fiscal year ends on May 31. If you have young children, offer to read to their class, and if you don’t have young children then contact your local school to see if there is some way you can be of service; if you are on a WWBA committee suggest and organize a program, CLE or not, to further educate our membership; join the WWBA Career Transition Task Force, your task could be helping one person update her resume, or you could participate in organizing and contacting potential employers, the commitment you make would be up to you; we can all donate to a local food pantry; contact your local senior citizens’ organization and volunteer to drive a senior to a doctor’s appointment, or to the store (fully masked, of course); contact your local garden club and volunteer to donate flower seeds or bulbs-better yet, find out where you can plant them in your community; telephone a senior citizen, it can be a friend, a relative, or someone in your neighborhood; be creative, but find ways to Give Back. We are all fortunate to have friends and colleagues at WWBA who support us with their advice, their friendship, and their support. Many others in our communities do not have the same benefit. That gives us an opportunity to Give Back in a wide variety of ways. In honor of WWBA, please take the opportunity to Give Back just one more time.

Happy Spring to all!

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Phone: (914) 505-6045

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