by Alicia Hernandez
Count your blessings. How many times have we heard that phrase over the years—from your mom, a well-intentioned friend, or even the voice in your head, urging you to pull yourself up out of a funk? Count your blessings. Three quick words that oftentimes jolt us back to our reality of all we have to be thankful for in spite of the trouble in our lives. These are simple words that open the door to greater reflection on who we might be depending on the perspective we have on our lives.
Have we have counted our blessings? Thanksgiving 2016 is history now—the 395th Thanksgiving on the books. And although our lives are vastly different from the lives of the pilgrims and Indians who celebrated the first Thanksgiving, it seems we are thankful for the same types of things—peace, health, family and friendship, and a good harvest, whatever our success might be.
For lawyers, it might be passing the bar, getting that coveted job, making a once in a lifetime deal, landing a big client, opening a new law firm, being a part of a great legal community with a thriving Texas economy. It might be the growth in our personal lives, a marriage, children, new home. The list goes on. But, it also is remembering that winning is not everything, no one is perfect, and sometimes good comes out of bad. It is worth remembering that it is all in the way we look at things, and it seems everyone has something to be thankful for.
Tracey, a victim of domestic violence, is thankful for the shelter that took her in, the legal aid lawyer who is representing her, and the comfort and kindness of others who are helping her restart her life.
Maria, a single mom of two whose husband left her for another woman, is thankful for her housekeeping job and her volunteer attorney who helped her get child support—the additional income necessary to keep a roof over her head and food on the table.
Michelle, a veteran and mother of young children, is thankful for the volunteer attorney willing to look at her employment case when no one else was and willing to go the extra mile for her in negotiating rent payments with her landlord.
Suzanne, a young mother, is thankful that she and her son are together—just the two of them. She is thankful for the volunteer attorney who fought to get her child back from the deadbeat dad who had no true interest in raising a son.
And we as a legal community are thankful for the attorneys who volunteer their time and talents to represent Tracey, Maria, Michelle, Suzanne, and thousands more each year.
We are thankful for the donors who financially support the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and its efforts to keep the justice system open and accessible to all.
We are thankful for our longstanding donors Andy Payne and Jim Mitchell of Payne Mitchell Law Group. Andy and Jim have supported the Equal Access to Justice Campaign benefitting DVAP since 2006. Again, this year, they have donated $25,000 to the campaign, bringing their total donations to $200,000!
What is it that motivates Andy, Jim, and Payne Mitchell Law Group, lawyers who represent clients in aviation, product defect, commercial vehicle, and other personal injury matters?
“I am motivated by helping people,” said Mr. Payne. “I like to work side-by-side with my clients to help them get justice in their cases, but also to effect design or policy changes so that other people can reap some benefit from the losses my clients have suffered. In the end, I hope to make positive changes for everyone.”
Jim Mitchell’s primary motivator is also helping people. “I want to help people deal with not only the legal issues, but also the personal challenges that come with a life-changing event,” said Mr. Mitchell. “It is critical to have a way to move forward, and, on my best day, I hope that is ultimately what I am doing.”
And what are they thankful for? “We are thankful for the opportunity to help people see the silver linings in their situations. We count our blessings every day—to be able to help our clients, to be a part of a great legal community, and to be able to give back financially in our support of DVAP,” said Mr. Payne. “We are truly blessed,” added Mr. Mitchell.
To volunteer, donate, or learn more about the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and Equal Access to Justice Campaign, contact Alicia Hernandez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-220-7499.
Alicia Hernandez is the director of the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and the DBA director of community services. She can be reached at email@example.com.