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Community Spotlight - Attorneys Serving the Community and Trinity River Mission

Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Community Spotlight - Attorneys Serving the Community and Trinity River Mission
By Lindsey P. Bruning, Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP

Zealous Women strives to provide both young and seasoned professionals with resources to aid in professional and personal growth. In support of these efforts, Zealous Women is proud to highlight local organizations making a difference in our communities. This month, we are pleased to spotlight the Dallas, Texas based Attorneys Serving the Community and its 2012 beneficiary, Trinity River Mission.

Attorneys Serving the Community

Attorneys Serving the Community (ASC) was founded in 1987 by a small group of female attorneys in Dallas, Texas wanting to offer their talents to serve the local community. Over the years, ASC has grown with a membership of nearly 300 female attorneys and law students in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Its mission is to bring together female attorneys and combine their resources and talents to support non-profit organizations benefiting women, children, and families in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

How ASC Works

Each year, ASC selects a different local non-profit organization as its beneficiary, and spends the year raising money.

ASC primarily raises money for its selected beneficiary by hosting an annual luncheon. Last year's 25th anniversary luncheon featured Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager as the keynote speakers. The luncheon offers ASC members, their law firms and/or companies, and the public an opportunity to support that year's beneficiary by purchasing tickets, becoming a sponsor, and/or bidding on items sold at the silent auction typically held in conjunction with the luncheon.

Every member of ASC has a hand in planning the luncheon, from selecting the keynote speaker to finding sponsors and gathering items for the silent auction. All ASC members are invited to the monthly meetings so they can participate in the planning process by contributing their thoughts and ideas. The annual luncheon is truly the result of a group effort.

As a result of a number of members' interest in running, ASC has added a 5k race to its fundraising efforts. The inaugural "Heart & Sole 5k" was a huge success and this year's race will take place on February 18, 2012. ASC anticipates that the race's success will only grow in the years to come, providing yet another opportunity to support the selected beneficiary.

The most important and impressive aspect of ASC is that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of all contributions for the year go directly to the beneficiary. These funds include all ASC membership dues as well as the money raised at the luncheon, silent auction, 5K, and various other fundraising efforts throughout the year. Since its inception, more than $2.6 million has been raised by ASC for its beneficiaries. In fact, last year alone, ASC raised over $362,000 for its beneficiary, AVANCE-Dallas!

The Selection ProcessAttorneys Serving the Community

In the spirit of the organization, each member of ASC participates in selecting the annual beneficiary. The Charity Selection Committee reviews applications from the many amazing charities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, makes site visits, and narrows the list of applicants down to three finalists. ASC then holds a Beneficiary Selection Meeting that every ASC member is invited to attend. The three finalists present their organization to the group, providing members with the opportunity to ask each organization questions and then debate the pros and cons of each before they are asked to vote for their top choice.

This year the selection process was particularly difficult with three incredible organizations to choose from. On July 20, 2011, however, ASC chose its beneficiary for 2012 - a Dallas-based organization called Trinity River Mission.

Trinity River Mission

Trinity River Mission ("TRM") is a 501(c)(3) volunteer-based community learning center serving the intergenerational education needs of children, youth, and families in West Dallas. TRM began in the early 1960s as an outreach ministry of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church to help in the relocation of Native Americans from Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

In 1988, TRM became an independent 501(c)(3) organization. As such, it is no longer affiliated with a religious organization. Since 1988, TRM's focus has been to promote literacy, augment academic skills, and encourage educational success in children, youth and families, with the understanding that language proficiency and educational achievement opens doors that lead to satisfying jobs and productive futures. TRM serves the needs of all children without regard to race, ethnicity, or religious belief. At present, however, TRM's program participants are overwhelmingly Hispanic because of the agency's location in West Dallas. TRM serves a predominately minority community - 86.8% Hispanic, 10% African-American, 2.9% White, and .3% other races. In the state of Texas, 73% of beginning freshmen will graduate from high school. But in West Dallas, only 43% of beginning freshman graduate from high school, and only 5% of these students are ready for college level course work. TRM aims to change these statistics, offering educational programs to help build the foundation necessary to support and encourage high school graduation, build students' self-esteem, and prepare students for post-secondary studies. As part of its curriculum, TRM offers the following programs:

Homework Help

TRM staff and volunteers provide daily after school homework help during which time students complete their school assignments and participate in supplementary extended learning activities. The Homework Help program serves more than 150 students from Kindergarten through 5th grade and constantly has a waiting list.

Tutor Power Hour: Literacy Tutoring

Each week students meet with an assigned literacy tutor who provides individual and intensive one hour sessions in order to assist the student in developing literacy skills in reading and writing. More than 140 students in grades 3 through 12 participate in literacy tutoring.

Tutor Power Hour: Math Tutoring

Math tutors provide one hour math tutoring sessions each week to TRM students in grades 2 through 12. Tutors also provide math help via the internet.

Reading Buddies

Trained middle and high school youth, the majority of whom are TRM's very own 6th through 12th grade Believe & Achieve students, read in small groups or in one-to-one sessions with students in grades K through 3. Youth leaders read aloud with children and conduct pre-literacy activities, discussions and writing exercises.

Believe & Achieve Scholarship ProgramAttorneys Serving the Community

Over 150 students in grades 6 through 12 are paired with Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors. Staff, volunteers and mentors work closely with the students to encourage strong academic success, improve self-esteem, and pursue post-secondary education. Upon successful completion of all components of the program and high school graduation, each student receives a $4,000 scholarship from TRM to be used for college or vocational school.

Computer Lab

More than 30 computers with internet capability are available to all students to learn English pronunciation and use age-appropriate learning software. Students can also use the computers to work on research papers and other classroom assignments.

Kids Café

In partnership with the North Texas Food Bank and Capital One, the café serves hot meals and snacks to any child from the community who needs a meal four days each week - providing nutritious meals to children that may not have enough or the right kinds of food in their diet. TRM serves more than 15,000 meals throughout the school year and summer months.

TRM's Success

TRM's success is clear. Each year, nearly 450 children, youth and families receive educational support from TRM, with over 300 children receiving academic assistance and homework help. Of the children who participate in programs at TRM, 95% advance to the next grade level. Approximately 50% of TRM's students are accepted into private or magnet schools. And 90-100% of TRM's seniors graduate from high school each year!

Getting Involved in ASC or TRM

Interested in helping ASC or TRM? There are many ways you can get involved! Zelle Hofmann's Zealous Women are proud to support ASC, with several of our attorneys participating as active members. Lindsey P. Bruning, an associate in the firm's Dallas office, serves as co-chair of the annual Heart & Sole 5k. Join our Zealous Women in supporting ASC by becoming a member! Please visit their website at www.ascdallas.com for more information on how to join this amazing organization.

TRM is perpetually in need of volunteers. As a volunteer, you can become a General Help Tutor, Tutor Power Hour Tutor, Reading Buddy, a Believe & Achieve Mentor, Computer Aid, or Resource Librarian. If you cannot devote time, TRM can always benefit from your monetary support. For more information on getting involved in TRM, please visit their website at www.trinityrivermission.org.