JANUARY 16, 2013
ATLANTA – The Health Law Partnership (HeLP) held its first annual fundraiser, “Shake It Up with Martinis and Cocktails for HeLP,” on Thursday, September 20, 2012. HeLP is an interdisciplinary collaboration among Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, and Georgia State University College of Law. HeLP provides legal services to low income children who are patients of Children’s and their families and also provides interdisciplinary education to health care providers, attorneys, and professional graduate students in law, medicine, social work, public health, and bioethics.
“The social, economic, and physical conditions in which children live can seriously impact their health,” said Sylvia Caley, a professor at the college and director of HeLP. “Our mission is to address these social determinants of health and improve outcomes for children through direct legal services, education, and advocacy. This requires resources.”
The event, which featured music, hors d’oeurvres, and a silent and live auction, was held at the law firm of Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP. “Nelson Mullins is committed to public service,” said Jennifer Malinovsky, a partner at the firm and HeLP Advisory Council Chair. “In addition to providing pro bono legal services and financial support of HeLP, we were happy to volunteer our space for the evening.”
“The view of the Atlanta skyline set a beautiful backdrop for the event,” praised Susan McLaren, organizer of the event. “We are so appreciative of Nelson Mullins for hosting.”
Platinum sponsors included the Daily Report and the law firms of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and Weissman Nowack Curry & Wilco PC. In-kind donations were provided by Terry England; Kroger, Co. at Kofer Crossing; and Catering by Paula B. “The support of the sponsors at all levels along with the time and talents of the event coordinating volunteers helped to ensure the event was a success,” said McLaren.
Over 160 professionals representing the health care, legal, social work, public health, and education fields attended the HeLP fundraiser. “HeLP was founded in 2004,” said Caley. “It has taken us a while, but finally we are having a party to celebrate our successes.”
“I was especially pleased to see doctors, nurses, and other practitioners representing Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” said Dr. Robert Pettignano, HeLP’s medical champion and Medical Director Campus Operations at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding. “The message that HeLP attorneys can assist medical professionals with overcoming legal hurdles is reaching these medical professionals. Working as a medical-legal partnership is how we achieve better health outcomes for children.”
Many graduates and current students of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic at the College of Law also attended. “The fundraiser was like a reunion for College of Law graduates who had participated in the Clinic,” said Megan Daugherty (JD ’12), Satcher Health Leadership Institute Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine.
“The Clinic allows students the opportunity to gain hands-on legal experience and to develop lawyering skills like interviewing clients, managing cases from beginning to end, and arguing cases before an administrative law judge,” added Laurice Rutledge (JD ’10), an associate with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP who practices health care law. “This fundraiser was an opportunity for those of us who benefitted from the program to demonstrate our appreciation and give back.”
Twelve Student Health Law Association (SHLA) members volunteered their time to assist the event committee with tasks such as registration and check-out. “Volunteering at Shake It Up for HeLP offered the chance to network with local health law attorneys and meet health care practitioners in a more informal setting while supporting a good cause,” said Greg Fosheim (JD ’14), SHLA President.
The fundraiser featured a silent and live auction. Local businesses and individuals donated items such as tickets to sporting events, admission to entertainment attractions, artwork, gift baskets, hand-made jewelry, and knitted baby outfits. Pettignano opened the live pledge auction to raise sponsorships for HeLP’s summer intern program. Over 25 people made pledges ranging from $10-$750.
“We are incredibly grateful to be able to offer our student interns a competitive stipend for their summer work,” said Lisa Bliss, Professor and Co-Director of the HeLP Legal Services Clinic at the College of Law. “HeLP depends on generous donors and volunteers.”
In the background of the event, a video clip served as a poignant reminder of the work that HeLP can do and the potential impact of the funds being raised. HeLP staff attorney Payal Kapoor enabled a grandmother to obtain legal custody of her daughter’s baby in order for the baby to receive a life-saving heart transplant. “The child is alive. The child has a beating heart. You think about what an incredible thing that is,” Cheri Tipton, Deputy Director of Atlanta Legal Aid Society, said on the video. “Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is inviting lawyers into the hospital….The power of a legal document that we have the expertise to do routinely… is just profound.”
Shake It Up for HeLP was a success, raising over $13,500 from the silent and live auctions, ticket sales, and sponsorships. In addition to providing stipends to summer interns, funds will support the salaries of the program’s three hospital-based staff attorneys and the program evaluator. “Funding support from both the medical and legal community, beneficiaries of our services trainees, and all those who recognize the phenomenal job that HeLP does is essential for sustainability and growth,” said Pettignano. “I am proud to be part of such a wonderful organization and extremely proud of the way the community at large has rallied around us and supported us through this event.”
To make a tax-deductible donation to HeLP, please visit http://healthlawpartnership.org/index/support_HeLP/Donate.
To donate items for next year’s auction, please contact Pam Kraidler at 404-705-0000.
Stacie P. Kershner, JD
Associate Director, Center for Law, Health & Society