The holidays are an ideal time to donate to the Foundation’s Children’s Legal Services Fund
The holiday season and its focus on family is a perfect time to support a Florida Bar Foundation program that serves society’s most vulnerable residents.
That’s the message 40-year Sarasota banker Joseph “Jody” Hudgins delivered to fellow members of the Board of Governors at a December meeting on Amelia Island. Hudgins is one of the 52-member board’s two public members.
“We ask that you consider the Children’s Legal Services Fund,” Hudgins said. “It protects children from things that are going on in their families, in their houses, in their neighborhoods, that they have no control over.”
According to its annual report, the Foundation allocated some $1 million in Children’s Legal Services, or “CLS,” grants in FY 21-22. The money was awarded to nine grant recipients.
The not-for-profit groups include the Cuban American Bar Association’s “Immigrant Children’s Fund,” Dade Legal Aid’s “2022-23 Children’s Legal Collaborative Project,” and the “FSU Vulnerable Children’s Project.”
Children’s Legal Services programs protect children from physical abuse, ensure fair and equal access to schooling, provide access to services for disabled children and those aging out of foster care, prevent children from being trafficked, support children with complex medical needs, represent children whose parents are affected by the opioid crisis, and secure shelter for children who lack stable housing, according to the Foundation.
“I hope all of us would do something to support something like this, this time of year,” Hudgins said.
Giving back to the community is important, Bar President Gary Lesser stressed.
“I always tell people, give whatever you feel is right,” Lesser said. “You really can affect the trajectory of someone’s life.”
Hudgins is somewhat of an expert when it comes to the power of philanthropy.
He’s been a Florida Bar Foundation board member since former President John Stewart appointed him in 2019, and former President Michael Tanner reappointed him in 2021.
In June, Foundation President Connie Bookman honored Hudgins with the 2022 “President’s Award” for his “passionate dedication and innovative commitment to increasing access to Florida’s justice system while promoting the principles of equal justice for all.”