Gibney attorneys recognize their professional responsibility to serve the public interest through pro bono and community service activities. Our firm supports and gives credit to associates who take an active role to assist those with limited means. Our lawyers are encouraged to select their own pro bono and community service activities, including: serving as board members and trustees of educational, religious, non-profit and civic institutions; teaching as adjunct professors at local law schools; representing battered spouses and abandoned children in immigration proceedings; acting as mobile legal volunteers during elections; and assisting immigrants with the U.S. citizenship process. Through the “Gibney for the Community” program, we match vacation time for employees who use their own vacation time to engage in worthy causes to serve the needs of the community.
New York Cares
With the assistance of Annick Delrome, Rachael Gallagher, Lillian Perdomo, Karina Rodriguez and Lina Rodriguez, Gibney employees participated in two of NY Cares 2012 programs (Winter Wishes and Coat Drive) for a third year.
Through the Winter Wishes Program, each participant received a letter from a disadvantaged child connected to shelters and community organizations throughout the city. This past holiday season, 70 of Gibney employees participated in the Winter Wishes program and donated a wrapped gift fulfilling the wish of a teenager.
The firm collected 32 gently used coats this year to contribute to a warmer New York. According to NY Cares organization, a total of 113,976 coats have been distributed throughout New York City.
Safe Passage Project
A team of Gibney attorneys is currently providing pro bono services to two brothers from Guatemala who are seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which is available to certain undocumented immigrants under the age of 21 who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents. Once a child receives SIJS, he or she can apply for U.S. permanent residence and eventually for U.S. citizenship. This pro bono effort is part of the Safe Passage Immigration Project founded by Professor Lenni Benson of New York Law School. Attorneys Michele Gallo, Natalia Gouz, Inez Iraldo, Amy McCoy and Zarina Syed, are representing one of the brothers in immigration removal proceedings, and both brothers in guardianship applications filed in the Family Court, in the hope that they may then apply for SIJS, lawful permanent resident status and a secure future. In recent years the Department of Homeland Security has reported that there were 1.2 million undocumented minors in the United States. While these children are entitled to counsel in immigration proceedings, the government does not pay for legal representation and as a result more than half go through immigration proceedings without a lawyer. Gibney attorneys are therefore pleased to provide pro bono assistance in these cases.
inMotion - Story by Story - Climbing to End Domestic Violence
For the second year in a row, Team Gibney participated in the fundraiser Story by Story – Climbing to End Domestic Violence to benefit inMotion, a nonprofit organization providing free legal services to battered women and children. We were among the1,000 inMotion supporters coming together to climb the stairs of 1411 Broadway—a 42-story skyscraper in the heart of Manhattan's Fashion District and Times Square. We exceeded last year’s fundraising efforts, raising over $4,400, including donations from the firm, and family and friends.
My Sisters’ Place
Under the direction of Gibney Partner Ellen Poreda, attorneys and paralegals are helping to reunite more than 25 children from Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico with their mothers in the greater New York City area as part of a pro bono project on behalf of My Sisters’ Place (MSP), a nonprofit organization assisting victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. Gibney professionals participate in a small but enormously complex and emotional aspect of the lives of MSP clients: the reunion of dependent children who are located outside the United States with their victimized mothers. In addition to preparing required forms and documentation for presentation to the U.S. Consulates abroad, Gibney attorneys help to prepare the children for their Consular interviews and other logistics required for their travel to the U.S. One Guatemalan mother was recently reunited with three teenage children that she had not seen for nearly 10 years. During those years, even though some of the children had no recollection of their mother, they sent homemade cards and clung to the hope of a future together. Thanks to the volunteers at MSP and Gibney, this year the Mother’s Day gifts arrived in person.
Gibney attorney Judi McManigal serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of OneJustice, a California service organization comprised of individuals from law firms, law schools, corporate legal departments and legal nonprofit organizations whose purpose is to steer campaigns that provide legal help to Californians in need. A hallmark project of OneJustice is the “Justice Bus,” in which urban law students are literally driven by bus to rural areas where they collaborate with local legal aid organizations to provide essential free legal assistance to elderly, disabled, poor and other needy clients. Without the Justice Bus, many of these rural organizations do not have the staff to offer legal clinics, and clients often must wait weeks to get legal advice.
Children's Hospital Boston
Gibney Partner, Angelo E.P. Mazza, organized a raffle and silent auction in conjunction with the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (IACC) to benefit the Children’s Hospital Boston. Angelo proudly donated $13,760 to the hospital on behalf of the IACC. Funds will benefit children and their families receiving care. Children’s Hospital Boston employs 963 active medical and dental staff as well as 897 residents and fellows, 1,570 nursing and clinical personnel and 5,200 other full and part time employees. They also have a diverse, trained team of more than 800 volunteers.
Farmer Solidarity Project
Immigration paralegal Lina Rodriguez participated in a ten-day service trip to Guatemala, organized by the Farmer Solidarity Project. In conjunction with CONIC, a social movement organization that fights for land reform, food sovereignty, and campesino and indigenous rights, Rodriguez and other volunteers visited with poverty stricken communities in the mountainous Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala to help plant trees and build stoves with proper ventilation.
CUNY & AILA Citizenship Day
Immigration attorneys Survi Parvatiyar, Trisha Yukawa, Rosanna Fox and Amy McCoy participate in ongoing, free immigration legal aid clinics organized through a partnership between the City University of New York and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. The attorneys help legal permanent residents to complete their applications for U.S. citizenship, obtain any available waivers of fees and language requirements, and receive referrals for sliding scale or pro bono services in the event of any complex issues. The clinics in New York City are co-sponsored by the CUNY Citizenship Now! Project and AILA.
Street Soccer U.S.A.
Immigration attorney Filomena Lepore has been working to obtain replacement green cards for homeless immigrant soccer players involved with Street Soccer USA. The organization seeks to improve the lives of homeless adults through a competitive soccer league that provides mentoring, structure, fellowship and hope. Gibney voluneers will be on the scene when Street Soccer hosts the SS USA Cup in July 2012.