News

Focus on a Fund: Lackawanna Pro Bono

This month, the Scranton Area Community Foundation is not telling the story of a single fund and the work it does to benefit our community. Instead, we want to tell you about several funds that have been created at the Foundation and the collaborative impact these funds make to benefit one vital organization in our community: Lackawanna Pro Bono.

Estimates from the American Bar Association indicate that more than 80% of people living near the federal poverty level are unable to afford an attorney for non-criminal legal matters. The inability to afford an attorney means that individuals faced with complicated lawsuits like landlord-tenant and mortgage foreclosures, divorce, child custody, and other family law matters, unemployment compensation hearings, and debt collection matters are forced to navigate the legal system alone. In 1997, to remedy this significant problem in Lackawanna County, a team of local attorneys with the support of the Lackawanna Bar Association, founded Lackawanna Pro Bono (LPB). Today, more than 340 local attorneys have volunteered their time through LPB to help over 6,000 people with legal issues, at no cost to the individual. That’s 6,000 less people in Lackawanna County who have had to face their legal challenges alone.

In 2002, many of the same attorneys who helped to start LPB decided they wanted to ensure the long-term survival of the agency and began creating permanent, endowed funds at the Scranton Area Community Foundation. Many of these funds have been named after prominent attorneys in the community who have supported the work of LPB by providing free legal representation to those that need it most. Because LPB is a nonprofit agency that does not charge clients for the services they receive, LBP receives its funding from a variety of sources. In the last few years when a few funding streams became unreliable, LBP was able to draw from the endowed funds created for its benefit in order to keep the doors open. Sylvia Hahn, Esq., Executive Director of LPB, said “these funds were a true lifeline that allowed us to stay afloat in the rocky times.”

A majority of these funds were created by anonymous donors in the community to honor the life or the work of the attorneys listed in the fund name. The most recent fund to benefit LPB created in 2014 is named the Roselle B. and Louis A. Fine Memorial Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono. In 1928, Louis A. Fine established a law practice, which became one of the oldest firms in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He was also a long-time supporter of LPB. His children, Barbara Karchmer and local attorney Richard Fine, used funding from a trust created through their parents’ estate to create this fund to benefit LPB and honor the legacy of their parents. The fund established by the Fine family joins 12 other funds that will provide LPB with critical resources, so they can continue serving our community in perpetuity. The following is a complete list of the funds created at the Scranton Area Community Foundation that pay tribute to notable attorneys in Lackawanna County by ensuring the work of LPB continues for generations:

• Catherine A. Foley, Esq. Memorial Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Lackawanna Pro Bono Fund
• Joseph C. Kreder Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Janet Rothenberg Memorial Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Morey M. Myers Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• James Scanlon Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• The Carlene R. Gallo, Esq., Robert T. Gownley, Jr., Esq., Jill H. Miller, Esq., Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Robert & Bernadine Munley Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Monsignor Joseph G. Quinn Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Ned & Mary Ann Abrahamsen, George & Patti Lynett, Scranton Area Foundation Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Carlene R. Gallo, Esq., Robert T. Gownley, Esq., Morey & Sondra Myers, PNC Bank Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Sylvia H. Hahn, Esq. Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono, Inc.
• Roselle B. and Louis A. Fine Memorial Fund for Lackawanna Pro Bono

If you would like to contribute to one of these funds, please make a check payable to the Scranton Area Community Foundation and write the fund name on the memo line. This Friday, LPB is hosting its annual golf tournament at Glen Oak Country Club. For more information, please visit LPB’s website here: http://www.lackawannaprobono.org/index.html. For more information on how you can create a legacy to support the causes you care the most about, please contact Rachel Drazdowski, Esq., Director of Philanthropy at racheld@safdn.org or you can learn about planned giving options to provide for your family by visiting the Foundation’s new planned giving website here: http://safplans.org/