Charity Case

NLC lends helping hand to community causes

Aside from promoting various educational endeavors and the usual networking opportunities with colleagues, a local bar association committee strives to enhance life in the community through its support of an area charity each year.

The New Lawyers Committee (NLC) of the Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA), in addition to conducting monthly meetings and various social and networking events, has contributed greatly over the years to various local charitable organizations, according to Lisa Stadig Elliot, executive director of the OCBA.

Each year, the New Lawyers Committee selects one local charity and makes it the focus of its fund-raising activities.

The proceeds from the NLC's events,  such as Summer Splash and its Annual Bowling Challenge, benefit the chosen charity. A check is presented to the charity during the NLC's annual outing to a Tiger game each summer.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Oakland County was the beneficiary of the committee's charitable endeavors during the 2012-13 bar year, which saw the NLC raise a record-breaking $11,723.

For its commitment to community service coupled with its networking programs, the NLC, led by Chair Marc Jerabek of Plunkett Cooney, was awarded the Committee of the Year Award at the OCBA's 79th Annual Meeting in June.

Jerabek notes that the committee's success is due in large part to an active membership.

"What we've seen is a huge increase in the participation in our activities and at our meetings because we've got a lot of people contributing their time and effort," he explains. "I think that all translates into a greater fund-raising capability."

And when the NLC adopts a charity, the group doesn't simply collect funds and write a check of support.

"We look for an organization where, in addition to contributing our dollars, we're able to contribute time and perhaps our services," Jerabek says. "Throughout the year we've helped out at events that are sponsored by or at the Boys and Girls Club. All that working together, in my opinion, gives you the atmosphere where it's much more conducive for people to get on board and contribute."

As Jerabek wraps up eight years on the committee, he lightheartedly says that he'd like to take the credit for its success, but knows that it has been the ultimate team effort.

"I would like to think that my leadership has had some role in the success of the committee this year, but I think the fact of the matter is that it's many hands making light work. We've got 30 to 40 people who are very active both within the committee and the organization."

One pair belongs to NLC board member Debra Janicki, an attorney with The Googasian Firm who, along with her colleague Tom Howlett, was recognized with the OCBA's Distinguished Service Award for outstanding volunteerism.

Janicki, who has been involved with the committee since January 2011, has been active since day one. She donates a generous amount of time to the NLC's annual Meet the Judges Party its main fund-raising event centered around a silent auction by collecting donations and helping with preparations.

However, where Janicki has made her mark is with the NLC's Adopt-a-Family project.

Through her innovativeness, Janicki helped streamline the process of gift giving, making it easier for the adopted family by creating a color-coding system and a list of items to purchase on

In 2011, which was the first year the NLC adopted a family, she brought her own family into the spirit of giving.

"My family thought it was just such a nice thing to do that we thought instead of exchanging gifts that we would all kind of pitch in and buy items for this family instead, which turned out to be a lot of fun," she says. "My mom really enjoyed shopping for these children that were on the list even though she didn't know them. She felt like she was doing some thing great for this family."

Janicki was humbled by the recognition from the OCBA and is delighted to work along side others in "giving back" to the community.

"Everyone pitches in helping to raise funds for different events. It's very impressive to see how many people pitch in," Janicki says.

For the 2013-2014 year, the NLC has chosen to support the Jacquelyn E. Bayley Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to raising funds for scientific and medical research regarding the treatment, diagnosis and cure of ovarian cancer.

"We realize that we're just a small contributor to these organizations," Jerabek says, "but we're all very excited to do it every year and that's something we really embrace and see as part of our mission."

By Christine L. Mobley


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