On Thursday, October 3, 2013, the Legal Aid Society of Rockland County (LASRC) held its Annual Gala at the majestic View on the Hudson in Piermont. More than 200 judges, legislators, attorneys, business people and community members were in attendance to honor “Continuing the Commitment” Award recipient Carolyn Fish, Executive Director of the Center for Safety & Change (formerly Rockland Family Shelter). Carolyn Fish served as the Center’s Executive Director for more than 30 years and was also a founding member.
Leading off the Gala was Honorary Chair Larry McElroen, Attorney and First Vice President of Hudson Valley Bank. He urged attendees to “keep your money and your support local,” noting that LASRC is a Rockland-based organization that has advocated for equal justice for low-income Rockland residents since 1966. He warned of threats to LASRC’s funding from outside agencies and encouraged everyone in attendance to do their part to support LASRC. The evening was emceed by Scott McGee, Anchor and Managing Editor for Channel 12 Westchester/Hudson Valley. The event’s Presenting Sponsor was the law firm of Mandel, Katz & Brosnan LLP. Other key sponsors of the event included Jade Abstract Company, Hudson Valley Bank and Avon Products, Incorporated.
Alexander Bursztein, Executive Director of LASRC, introduced honoree Carolyn Fish. Mr. Bursztein noted that for both organizations, the primary struggle is for a balance of power, whether it involves domestic violence victims challenging the power and control of their abusers, children fighting for a voice in custody or termination proceedings, or homeowners fighting against the banks in the struggle to save their homes. Also speaking was LASRC client Kristina Flores whom LASRC helped to save her home from foreclosure. When her bank refused to work with her, she said, “My emotion was pure outrage. Legal Aid’s was to fight back harder. And we did.” After finally saving her home and receiving compensation for her ordeal, she said, “I have never seen an office come together and work as hard as the entire Legal Aid office did. . .
The services they provide to our community are invaluable and I will be forever indebted to them.”
Among the gala attendees were Assemblymembers Kenneth Zebrowski and Ellen Jaffee, Legislator Harriett Cornell, Appellate Division Justices Mark Dillon and John Sweeney, New York State Supreme Court Justices Margaret Garvey, Robert Berliner, Linda Christopher, Paul Marx and Sandra Sciortino, Rockland County Surrogate Thomas Walsh, County Court Judges Charles Apotheker and Victor Alfieri, Family Court Judges William Warren, Sherri Eisenpress and Janet Malone Family, Retired Supreme Court Justices William Sherwood and Alfred Weiner, Family Court Magistrate Catherine Miklitsch, Clarkstown Justices Rolf Thorsen, Howard Gerber and Scott Ugell, Ramapo Justice Alan Simon, Spring Valley Justice Christine Theodore, Haverstraw Justice Ronald DeCaprio, Piermont Justice Laura Weiss, Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato, Orangetown Suprevisor Andrew Stewart, Rockland County Commissioner of Social Services Susan Sherwood, Acting Director of the Rockland County Office of Community Development Director Maria Frank, and Rockland County Bar Association President Lawrence Codispoti.
LASRC is a not for profit organization providing civil legal services to local residents who cannot afford private attorneys as well as to children in family court. They make sure that Rockland County families and individuals, seniors and children, have access to a safe home, enough food to eat, public benefits to which they are entitled, medical care and adequate shelter.
Each year, LASRC helps over 4,000 Rockland County families who are facing foreclosure, or living in deplorable conditions, or in need of disability benefits. And they include children who need a voice in family court when their parents are accused of abuse, or are fighting for custody, or when the children’s safety and welfare are at risk.
To find out more about the Legal Aid Society and how you can support their work, call (845) 634-3627, or visit their website at www.legalaidrockland.org.