College Columns December 2017 - Page 6

And While You’re At It, Please Remember the Foundation!

Mark D. Bloom, Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Chair, ACB Foundation

grandson Jorgie, age 6 1/2); my college alma mater; causes important to family and close friends; and all of the other national and local organizations that we try to remember, at least a little bit, each year in our charitable giving.

And with all of the natural disasters – hurricanes, floods and fires -- and human tragedies in the U.S. and around the world this year – too numerous and too horrible even to look back on so many of them – I recognize that all of us who are fortunate enough to be on the giving end of the charitable cycle have the obligation to dig deeper and more thoughtfully at the end of such a difficult year. And then, of course, my thoughts return to our Foundation, and its proper place in these considerations.

Simply put, the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation fills a need that no other organization does. In good years and bad, the least fortunate among us turn to legal services organizations in their communities for help to address mountainous debt loads arising from loss of job, home, income, or the family breadwinner, crippling medical bills, or other financial burdens beyond their ability to bear. And as our indomitable Pro Bono Committee Chair Jim Baillie tells me, the trickle-down effect of natural disasters like we’ve seen in such cruelly outsize proportion this year is an escalating need for assistance to those organizations in succeeding years – after the first responders have come and gone, government assistance has run out, and innocent people are left to deal with a new and often terrifying financial reality.

Yet again in 2017 the College and Foundation stepped up to meet the increasing demand for grants to pro bono legal services organizations providing insolvency and bankruptcy-related assistance. As reported in Jim’s separate Column, the Pro Bono Committee approved 63 grants in 27 states and the District of Columbia, and through the extraordinary generosity of our Fellows and contributions from the College we funded those grants to the tune of $480,000 – another record year. Yet the demand continues to grow, leaving us no choice but, sadly, to deny funding to several meritorious grant applicants and fund others only partially.

Our 2017 target for the Circuit Campaigns is $285,000. Under the “gentle guidance” of our wonderful Treasurer Marti Kopacz the Campaigns are well underway in all of our Circuits, and unless you’ve managed to hide successfully under your desk for the past several weeks I suspect you’ve already received a similar form of “gentle guidance” from your Circuit Campaign Chair.

And so when you get that call or that email (or that email followed by a call and yet another email), consider that no other organization does what our Foundation does, year after year. We are and consistently have been the largest provider, anywhere in the country, of grants and assistance to pro bono consumer bankruptcy legal services agencies, everywhere across the country. The role that the Foundation plays in providing relief to the people served by these organizations – through the educational materials developed and maintained on our website to the hard dollars advanced by our growing number of grants – is truly unique, simply not replaceable from any other known source.

And so as you consider all of the charitable requests you will receive this season, please remember to include the Foundation. Our soft ask is relatively modest – one billable hour, please – or whatever you can offer. Our Four Figure Club netted 100 Fellows who gave $1000 or more in its inaugural year in 2016, and we’d love to increase that number in 2017. By giving

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As I sit down to write this Column each December, it always sharpens my focus on all of the charities that our family tries to support. There’s the local United Way chapter, of course; the Camillus House homeless shelter in Miami; Autism Speaks (for my little