By Eric Singer
Equal justice is not necessarily the flashiest, most commonly discussed pursuit, but it is a critical one that demands attention, resources, and support. The poor and working poor families of the United States tend to fight from behind when faced with a legal issue, as they cannot afford the representation and consultation they need to properly navigate the process at hand.
This often puts impoverished families at a severe disadvantage, threatening their stability and potentially leading to a range of issues spanning from financial hardship to lackluster representation. Suffice it to say that these households need philanthropic advocates who fight for equal justice.
Talk Poverty reported that more than 1.7 million individuals were living below the poverty line in Chicago last year, giving the city a 13.6 percent poverty rate. This statistic makes it clear that Chicago has an elevated need for equal justice advocacy and support. Luckily, a powerful organization has long acted as the champion of equal justice in The Windy City.
I wanted to take a moment to describe some of the reasons why this particular organization is so near and dear to the hearts of us here at HAYSTACKID.
CVLS and Race Judicata®
The Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) Foundation is an incredibly vital organization that serves poor and working poor families and individuals in the Chicago area. CVLS has been the leading pro bono civil legal aid provider for more than five decades, making a massive difference in the lives of households that need legal support and advocacy the most in the city.
In 2016, nearly 10,000 Chicago-area individuals received free legal support from 2,095 volunteer attorneys thanks to the herculean efforts of CVLS, and countless more have been assisted throughout the 501(c)(3) charity’s more than 50 years of operation.
Each individual and family served has its own unique story, and those interested in reading about some of the successes achieved last year should refer to the 2016 Annual Report from the organization. The group acts as a conduit of sorts, connecting individuals and families in need with the best possible counsel, ensuring that they are properly represented and that their rights are upheld in the court of law.
One of the most important days of the year for CVLS falls on its annual Race Judicata® event on the Chicago lakefront. Last year, roughly 60 sponsors helped CVLS to raise $175,000 through the 5k Run/Walk for Equal Justice, while more than 4,800 attorneys and other members of the legal community showed up to display their support.
This event has been taking place for 23 years, and does not just act as a critical financial boon for CVLS, but also puts like-minded, charitable attorneys and legal professionals in touch with one another. Those connections often prove invaluable over time, both for the individuals involved and the members of the community who are in most need of legal support.
All of these reasons, and many more, are why HAYSTACKID has been a long-time supporter of CVLS, and will continue to be for years to come.
Come out and show your support!
This year’s iteration of Race Judicata® takes place at the Chicago lakefront on Thursday, September 14th. HAYSTACKID is a Medalist Sponsor, and we will be flying our beloved hot air balloon over Grant Park on race day. As always, those attorneys who work up a big appetite during the 5k walk/run can stop by our tent and fill up, as we will be cooking countless hot dogs for these charitable professionals.
There is no denying the importance of CVLS in Chicago, and we are proud to be a part of this incredible organization in any way we can. Race Judicata® is one of our favorite events of the year, as it is a truly remarkable, beautiful, and hopeful day that proves just how many legal professionals commit themselves to serving their communities.
If you are going to be in Chicago in mid-September, be sure to come on out and experience the festivities for yourself. Individuals interested in participating in the 5k walk/run will need to register online by September 8th through the CVLS website.
Don’t miss this opportunity to support CVLS and the community members who benefit from the organization’s charitable activities. I hope to see you all there!
Eric Singer is HAYSTACKID’s Chicago-based Executive Vice President