Early today, I sent an email message to Legal Aid's supporters letting them know that we have decided that we must cancel this year’s Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, a dinner which has been held without fail every year since 1990. We love highlighting our work and honoring amazing members of our client community, as well as our inspiring Servant of Justice Honorees. So I am most definitely disappointed to have to report that this year’s Dinner has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That sadness, of course, is dwarfed by the anxiety I feel about this virus – for our clients, supporters, friends, and family. Yet I cannot help but be filled with hope as well. Over the past two weeks, I have seen my colleagues at Legal Aid and at organizations across the District spring into action to help protect our most at-risk neighbors. We were on the phone with leaders in the Marshalls Service and at the Court to try to obtain a moratorium on all evictions. And very quickly both the Council and the Courts stepped in to help mitigate some of the worst consequences of the outbreak. Legal Aid is now operating remotely and continues to strive to make justice real, in individual and systemic ways, here in the District. I have done more videoconferencing in the past week than I had in my life prior to this. But the calls have been heartening, as colleagues have rushed to help our clients in their time of need.
I want to extend my profound thanks to those who worked so hard to make this year’s Servant of Justice Awards Dinner a success: our Co-Chairs, Benefit Committee, Sponsors, and Corporate Honor Roll (see below). We look forward to celebrating our two Servant of Justice Award honorees, John Heintz and Avis Buchanan, at the 2021 Dinner. And we are pleased to announce that Elliot Weingarten, an associate at Brown Rudnick, was to be honored with this year’s Klepper Prize for Volunteer Excellence. He is an outstanding attorney who has handled 15 landlord tenant cases with Legal Aid, and is incredibly deserving of this recognition.
The Dinner is always about more than just one night. Knowing that, given what our country is facing, there’s a lot at stake this year, your support will provide critically-needed legal representation for thousands of DC residents facing eviction, foreclosure, domestic violence, and so much more this year.
Thank you, from all of us at Legal Aid.