Lawyers help others through Bar Foundation
By ALAN J. ORTBALS
Eight years ago, attorney Perry Browder with the Alton-based law firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy was approached by Belleville attorneys Ann Hatch and Russell Scott. They wanted Browder to join the board of directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation.
Browder told them, “I don’t even know what the Bar Foundation is.” But, he said, they educated him about what they do, made a believer out of him, and now he’s the foundation’s president.
The Illinois Bar Foundation, Browder said, is the charitable wing of the Illinois State Bar Association and does work throughout the state. Its initial objective was to provide aid to deserving members of the Illinois Bar who, because of age or infirmity, could no longer provide for their own care or support. Since then, the foundation has expanded its scope to ensure access to the justice system for those with limited means and it has adopted the following organizational objectives: to enhance the availability of legal aid to those of limited means; encourage pro-bono legal work; educate Illinois residents regarding their rights and responsibilities under the law; and extend assistance to colleagues in need of support.
Browder said that the foundation seeks to help poor people that have a hard time getting legal representation and getting their issues resolved in the court system by providing financial assistance to legal aid organizations. It supports the Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation and Prairie States Legal Services in Southwestern Illinois and many others throughout the state.
“That’s what sets the Illinois Bar Foundation apart,” Browder said. “It’s probably the only state-wide organization that helps the various legal aid organizations in cities and counties throughout the state. That makes it unique.”
These organizations assist low income people with a variety of legal issues ranging from landlord/tenant disputes to divorces to expungement of criminal records.
“An expungement of an old criminal conviction is kind of like an annulment for a marriage,” Browder said. “The court will get rid of it completely. We’ve done a lot of those for veterans who have some old, small crime on their records. These are not violent or weapons related felonies but they can pop up and hurt people when applying for jobs.”
Another foundation program is the Illinois JusticeCorps in which specially trained students and recent graduates serve as guides to make the courts more welcoming and less intimidating for people without lawyers. The IBF also provides legal fellowships that support students at the various law schools in the state.
“Another thing that the IBF does is provide financial assistance to lawyers who are on hard times,” Browder said. “I know everybody thinks lawyers are wealthy and driving fancy cars. But there are some lawyers whose practices don’t do well or they have health or addiction issues and the foundation helps them and their families get through hard times. The Simmons firm has been involved with the foundation probably since its founding,” Browder added. “We have been more and more involved over time and we feel like we’ve been a nice voice from southern Illinois with the Bar Foundation.
During FY2017, the Illinois Bar Foundation provided financial assistance to 29 legal aid organizations throughout the state. Greg Shevlin of the Cook, Ysursa, Bartholomew, Brauer and Shevlin in Belleville is also an IBF board member.
“The foundation board is full of some really great people who really care about getting access to civil justice for people who can’t afford it,” Shevlin said. “Our board is very active. We have lively discussions about most issues at each meeting. I’ve been in organizations before where you show up and you go through a quick agenda and everybody goes home. But this is not one of those. This is a really good group of people who do some great work for people in need throughout the state.”
County, HeartLands win OLGA award for work
Madison County and HeartLands Conservancy were honored to receive an Outstanding Local Government Achievement award for the Upper Silver Creek Watershed Plan from the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
HeartLands Conservancy, serving Southwestern Illinois since 1989, is a nonprofit that works to balance the growth of the region with the responsibility to protect open spaces and natural resources.
Hospital introduces oncology wellness program
HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital Highland has introduced a new Oncology Wellness Program for patients undergoing cancer treatments.
Patients enrolled in the program start with an evaluation session, which includes standardized tests based on patient symptoms and diagnosis. A customized program is then developed for each patient. Each program consists of exercises to be performed with a therapist at the hospital, as well as exercises that can be performed at home. Patients also receive lifestyle education.
A physician referral is required for the Oncology Wellness Program. Call Outpatient Rehab Services at (618) 651-2720.
Holland partners on Fairview Heights center
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS – Holland Construction Services, which has a long history of building projects in Fairview Heights, is now working on the community’s new recreation complex.
The 30-acre site for 58,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor rec center is the former location of Our Lady of Assumption Church at Bunkum Road and Interstate 64.
The city chose local architect, EWR Architects Inc., for the design of the $18 million project.
The target date for completion is February 2019, which is the city’s 50th anniversary. The building, to be branded as The REC, will be the location of the kick-off celebration.
Nearly 12,000 square feet of the recreation center will be dedicated to an indoor aquatic facility with a 25-yard multi-lane lap pool, children’s spray ground, slides, sprays, lazy river and a vortex.
The center will also feature a 6,000-square-foot fitness center with areas for free weights, floor exercise, aerobic and group fitness; a gymnasium; a climbing structure; elevated running tracks; a 400-meter, six-lane running track; a game area for billiards, cards and table tennis; locker rooms; multipurpose and party rooms, and administration offices.
State law aimed at tax-dodging corporations
State Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, said new legislation will help prevent Illinois from doing business with expatriate corporations that avoid paying taxes by moving profits overseas. Beiser co-sponsored House Bill 3419, approved last month over the governor’s veto.
The Illinois Investment Policy Board will also be required to investigate and identify a list of expatriate corporations.