Watch the video below to watch and listen to Judge John C. Uhler’s end-of-the-year message for the York County Bar Foundation’s 30th year. Below the video, there is a full audio transcript available for reading.
Good afternoon members of the Bar Association, representatives from the bench, and any Bar Foundation members who are non-attorneys.
It was my sincere honor and privilege to serve the York County Bar Foundation as its President during this our 30th anniversary here.
During my 51 years of membership in the York County Bar, the York County Bar Foundation has evolved from its early status as a landlord to the bar Association, to that of being the preeminent charitable arm focused on justice issues in York County on behalf of the York County Bar Association.
Its mission to increase access to justice for all people particularly those struggling with poverty and abuse, to improve the administration of justice and to promote understanding of, and respect for, the law. It also encourages careers and promotes equity, inclusion, and diversity in the legal profession.
Our Bar Foundation’s 30-year history has positioned us as being a resource of Community Action Grants, promoting equal access to justice, and to improve the administration of justice in our York community.
Our initiatives have helped to improve the quality of life for all York County [residents].
Our York County Bar Foundation has justly earned its reputation as the role model across the commonwealth related for, and to support for, law related community initiatives.
Each of our members and co-partners were recently delivered the York County Bar Foundation 2020 Report to the community. If you haven’t read the report to date please take the time to do so. Read it thoroughly as if it’s a client’s document. In essence the Bar Foundation Report should be considered the equivalence of a trusted partnership report, advancing your interest as an attorney a member of your profession, your community, and the administration of justice.
The 2020 report exam exemplifies the vast array of activities and initiatives embarked upon by our foundation during the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The extraordinary challenges the pandemic impacting our nation, our commonwealth, and with the year-end fast approaching us causes us to reflect upon the suspense status that we once again have confronted during this second phase of the pandemic in 2021.
Obviously we do not have the full re-accounting for our accomplishments of this year, but we should take note and take credit for a variety of undertakings that we have established.
From the standpoint of last year, of course we accomplished the current year I should say we certainly have kept moving despite issues not being able to be in place through virtual technology. Our meetings, our programming, our CLEs (Continuing Legal Education credits).
We’ve also overseen the initiatives of our grant funding that has established resources again for MidPenn [Legal Services] and Truancy [Prevention Initiative], my favorite, or one of my favorites, as well as new programs such as Brick By Brick which helps and will help significantly in the minority community. Establishing business structure and assisting with professional pro-bono help and with the cost enabled by the York County Bar Foundation to incorporate, to organize, to provide the mechanics of effective startups for businesses which indeed will help our community.
One of the significant programs that I have a passion for, if you will, is our -committed committee and the programming that’s ensued from that.
The creators are our A-team, Ann Zerbe and Amy Nelson, both of whom were president respectively of the Bar Association and the Foundation the year before. Initiated this committee and through help and resources of our various bar members, our directors, and others within the community. This organization has begun to take form, develop strategies, and I believe will [make a huge impact] on the health and wealth of our community.
It’s imperative that we recognize that while the pandemic has significantly impacted our ability to function in-person and in-community (touching or encountering one another) that the underlying issues remain. And we need to provide educational programming, we need to provide startup initiatives, we need to employ by whatever means practicable and within the confines of our mission statement support for the work of the DEI Committee in promoting equal access to justice in the York County community and for those that both practice law within the community and who are exposed to the justice system.
Our focus too on specialty courts particularly the Cart Project is a as a critical accomplishment of our York County Bar Foundation. We are co-partnered with well-known organizations such as
WellSpan and the County of York in this initiative.
And it showed both it should bode well for the administration of justice with regard to those who are encountering mental health issues. We also on the business end have achieved five star status for estate planning council. We have continued to promote Leave A Legacy and all of these programs too numerous to count, have made a major impact on our York community.
My favorite: the youth [have] been enhanced by the mock trial program the pandemic has [impacted].
The polarization of our community, our nation, and all that encounter the justice system, has been as major an impact as the pandemic, if you will. We need to develop our education programs, emphasizing the rule of law, emphasizing the independence of the judiciary, emphasizing those areas that promote our profession as counselors at law encouraging commonality, community, and resolving issues rather than exacerbating them.
I want to take a special time though to thank all of the members of the Board who I had the privilege of working with during this last year–and before–though I’m not taking a swan song at this moment. Nonetheless the heavy rowing has been accomplished from my standpoint as more or less helmsman in this regard, and I would like to personally thank each and every one of them but I don’t want to belabor my comments.
In particular I also wish to extend my extraordinary thanks to the fine work of our Chief Executive Officer Victoria Connor in her role as CEO and President of the York County Bar Association and Foundation. We have flourished in a time when others could well be submerged.
Her staff as well too deserves huge kudos and in their hard work and effort putting up with the issues of technology, virtual programming, virtual committees, hybrids, non-hybrids. The reality is that like most of us, Zoom meetings have become a bummer. They have facilitated and made easy the accommodation of using such services, and I can’t thank them more. Particularly dealing with a non-geek in the computer world such as [myself]. I want to thank the Bar Association for all their support. I hope that we all begin to learn more about what we do. I hope we begin to learn more about what we should be doing, and I hope that you think about contributing to York County Bar Foundation to support its operation for the year ahead and for the years to come.
Unable to view the video? Click HERE to go directly to the York County Bar Foundation’s YouTube channel.