Denver Bar Association
December 2007
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We CAN Succeed! Legal program helps children and homeless

by Aaron P. Bradford

In a profession often decried for its lack of civility, the efforts taken by the Denver Bar Association and its members to serve the community should be a matter of great pride. Over the past number of years, the Community Action Network has rallied the support of more than 75 law firms for community projects specifically designed to create opportunities for children and the homeless by supporting initiatives that work to eliminate barriers to success.

"It’s better to build a child than repair an adult." The wisdom of this motto of Children’s Outreach Project — a major beneficiary of CAN’s efforts — has become the guiding principle in CAN’s efforts to help children and the homeless.

In August at the Denver Zoo, CAN delivered hundreds of backpacks to homeless and disabled students in the Denver Public Schools. With close to 70 firms participating, CAN was able to completely satisfy the stated needs of the Educational Outreach Program, a Denver Public Schools initiative that benefits homeless children, and Children’s Outreach Project, which benefits disabled children with after-school activities. For those present at the zoo that hot August afternoon, we saw something special.

As I watched one of the first students choose between a Spiderman and a Superman backpack, I noticed an odd smile cross his otherwise stoic face. It may have been the simple joy of having a sweet new backpack, but I think it was something more.

Law firm volunteers help hand out backpacks to children who couldn’t afford school supplies.

The first day of school always is a challenge: new teachers, new subjects, new friends, new sports and new obstacles to master. As we helped hundreds of children select backpacks, I realized how difficult it must be for children to excel when their families are homeless or cannot provide the essentials necessary to succeed in class — pencils, paper, food and transportation to school. It is more difficult to comprehend how sizeable these hurdles would be to a child with a disability. As I watched the same smile cross the faces of the hundreds of kids that day, I realized that these kids now felt equipped to meet the challenges of the coming school year.

More volunteers participate in the 2007 Food Drive to help those less fortunate.
Over the last three years, CAN has raised more than $65,000 in monetary donations that have been distributed to The Food Bank of the Rockies, Children’s Outreach Project, the DPS Educational Outreach Program and Kids In Need of Dentistry. CAN has delivered more than 100,000 meals to the Food Bank of the Rockies, 700 backpacks to COP and EOP, and thousands of toothbrushes to KIND. Over the past two years, CAN has supported the Wheels of Justice cycling team, now the single largest fundraising team to ride in the Children’s Hospital Courage Classic.

This year, Heather Purcell and her team presented a check for $185,000 to Dr. Marc Hunger, director of the Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Firm sponsorships for the Wheels of Justice are available and going fast.

In considering these successes, we should be inspired to do even more! I hope you will join us for our next adventure in February — The Snow Carnival to benefit the COP. On Feb. 7, at 6 p.m., at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, CAN will be hosting the Snow Carnival, which will feature admission to the museum, an IMAX viewing, a silent auction and fundraiser with the goal of raising at least $30,000. (CAN also will be hosting a photography contest and is currently seeking entries. Contest details are available by contacting the individuals below.) The proceeds from this event will fund the non-tuition-based budget for services provided to COP’s disabled students, which comprise 75 percent of its student population. Tickets will be $30 prior to the event and $35 at the door. To purchase tickets, call (303) 860-1115, ext. 727, or e-mail CAN is seeking firm sponsorships, silent auction donations, volunteers and attendees. WE NEED YOUR HELP! If you or your firm are interested in supporting this event, call Aaron P. Bradford at (303) 874-3434 or Heather Clark at (303) 824-5350.

Last year, the DBA awarded the "We CAN" award to 23 firms that regularly and consistently demonstrated a commitment to activities through donations and volunteer support. At the Snow Carnival, CAN will be awarding the 2008 We CAN awards and again we ask: We CAN — Can you?

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