Hands-on pro bono helps Holocaust survivors

first_img Hands-on pro bono helps Holocaust survivors Senior EditorEighty-four-year-old Bernie Yeger will never forget the dreadful details of living in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II, including saving his own brother from extermination. More than six decades after Allied soldiers liberated him from the Nazis’ clutches of cruelty, Yeger sat in the law office of Steven Marcus, a partner/shareholder at Fowler White Boggs in Ft. Lauderdale. He brought his birth certificate and shared memories almost too painful to speak aloud, all so he could receive a belated little piece of justice.Marcus helped reap Yeger a monthly pension of about $450 a month for the rest of his life, along with a back payment, from the German government as part of reparations for wartime crimes against Jews. They were able to prove he spent time in the Slatina ghetto in Czechoslovakia, then into forced labor sub-camp Buna, for a minimum of 60 months of persecution.“In the grand scheme of things, getting approved for payments will never fix the damage done,” Marcus said.“But it’s something positive that came out of a completely horrific situation of genocide.”For Yeger, grateful for free legal help to wend through the paperwork, it’s also a strong statement of preserving history and making sure we never forget that 11 million people were killed during the Holocaust, including six million Jews and more than a million children.For Marcus, and his colleague Carey Villeneuve, an associate at the firm, it’s hands-on pro bono work that fills them with purposeful satisfaction beyond victories in their fields of commercial litigation.The elderly survivors, first screened for eligibility by Jewish Family Service of Broward, come to their law office on East Las Olas Boulevard grasping yellowed documents and family pictures, some with arm tattoos that serve as indelible reminders of suffering they somehow survived.“The survivors we meet with often cry when telling us their stories. It is not uncommon for them to say, ‘I am telling you things I haven’t even told my children,’” Villeneuve said.“You can watch Schindler’s List, and look at the people in that movie and see what happened, but it’s completely different sitting in your office with a person who could be your neighbor or your grandparent and hearing them describe the atrocities they personally endured.”Marcus interviewed one survivor who told how she was sent to the gas chamber twice, the first time escaping through a hole because she was so emaciated she weighed only about 50 pounds.“It’s a great feeling to know we’re doing something to help someone have an additional means of income. It’s long overdue and much deserved,” Marcus said.“Beyond that, I’ve always had a fascination with World War II, and the history behind it, and the fact that you had some survivors who went into these camps at very young ages and lived there for so long they thought the whole world was like that. The fact that they survived in the face of such torture and suffering is a captivating statement on the human will to live.”So far, this pair of lawyers has invested about 100 pro bono hours into helping Holocaust survivors, with Yeger as their first success. They have about 20 more survivors in the pipeline, waiting to hear back from German officials.Knowing there are about 80 more Holocaust survivors in Broward County alone, Marcus is arranging a lunchtime training session for other lawyers who want to take on this special pro bono work.Marcus said he had always wondered what he could do to help Holocaust survivors, but he “could never figure out what it is I could do from a legal standpoint to assist.” That all changed in the summer of 2010 when he was reading a newspaper article describing how the German government had relaxed guidelines for eligible survivors to apply for pension programs. The relaxed guidelines meant a sizeable survivor population in Ft. Lauderdale would need help applying for pension benefits. The story named Holland and Knight attorney Kevin Packman doing this kind of pro bono work.“I called and said, ‘Listen, you are doing it in Miami. Are you looking for other attorneys to help?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely!’ He’s a great guy and got us started in this. It was good timing on our part, because he couldn’t do it in Miami and Broward, too,” said Marcus, thanking Packman for helping get them involved and trained.A California organization called Bet Tzedek Holocaust Survivors Justice Network helps with logistics, forms, updates, and communicating with Germany, and Elizabeth Sumpf, at Jewish Family Service of Broward, sends prescreened, qualified clients to the lawyers.“We’ve had about 100 so far,” Sumpf said. “For a lot of them, it’s very difficult to talk about it, but they really need the money as they get older and sicker.”Some are sent to Fowler White Boggs for precious free help.“It’s such a strange contrast, to be in our conference room on a sunny day, looking out at peaceful Ft. Lauderdale afternoon, while sitting with someone telling you how they watched as their mother was taken to a gas chamber,” Villeneuve said.“It’s important that they know that later generations do care and want to help and that we haven’t forgotten and moved on.” Hands-on pro bono helps Holocaust survivors January 15, 2012 Jan Pudlow Senior Editor Regular Newslast_img read more

PFI contracts: Chain of fools

first_imgStay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGIN Subscribe now for unlimited access Get your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAYlast_img read more

Jimmy Butler tells Timberwolves he’ll ‘let them know’ which upcoming games he’ll play

first_img“I’m not worried about no deal,” Butler said, per ESPN. “Injury or not, I got to take care of myself. I realize they have a job to do as an organization; I have one to do as a player. But if I’m not in the right with my body to go out there and do it, I don’t want to get hurt. I’ve been hurt almost every year now, so we’re going to take things with caution.”But when pressed by reporters, he added: “Stop asking me questions about if I’m going to sit out or not. If I’m going to sit out, you probably won’t talk to me on the day I sit out; but if I do, then I do and you can create a story around it with a lot of made-up stuff like y’all normally do.”Butler, 29, is in his eighth NBA season. Minnesota’s next two games are back-to-back: Sunday at the Trail Blazers and Monday at the Clippers.Butler’s distaste for playing for the Timberwolves has been an ongoing, drama-filled nightmare for the team. He wants out of the Land of 10,000 Lakes and has been doing his darndest to make life miserable for the team, hoping his actions can expedite the process. So far, it hasn’t. Related News NBA wrap: Thunder spoil Dwight Howard’s debut behind best half since move to Oklahoma City Lakers coach Luke Walton on his job security: ‘I don’t feel like I am going anywhere’center_img He sat out Wednesday night’s game against the Jazz because, as he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, his “body was hurting.”Butler has appeared in seven of the Timberwolves’ nine games, averaging 22.3 points and 34 minutes per game. Minnesota is 4-5, last in the Northwest Division.How much of Butler’s “availability” is affected by his desire to leave the Timberwolves vs. actual health issues likely will dog Butler until his situation is resolved. Saying, “I will let them know,” extremely unhappy Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler declared Friday night his availability in Minnesota’s next two games would be determined by … him.”They don’t know how my body feels,” Butler said after scoring 21 points in the Timberwolves’ 116-99 loss Friday to the Warriors (per ESPN). “So if I’m nicked up, then you can count on that. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes.”last_img read more