Florida population

The “Oscar of Legal Aid” • St Pete Catalyst

Welcome to the Catalyst Community Voices platform. We’ve organized community leaders and thinkers from all parts of our great city to talk about issues that affect us all. Visit our Community Voices page for more details.

Marvel Studios may be good at churning out endless superhero movie sequels and remakes, but they forgot one of the greatest homegrown heroes among us: Kimberly Rodgers, executive director of the Community Law Program ( CLP), a non-profit legal services organization in St. Petersburg that provides a variety of legal services to those who cannot afford them.

For over 15 years, Kim has worked with more passion and selfless dedication than any lawyer I have ever met. While most lawyers devote a lot of time to their work, many of them do so for prestige, power and profit. Kim does this to help those who really need it, receiving only a modest non-profit salary, and she passes on any recognition she receives to her staff, her board, and the organization as a whole. together. That’s just the kind of person she is.

The Florida Bar’s Creed of Professionalism asks every lawyer in Florida to make the following promise: “I will strengthen my profession’s dedication to public service and the public good.” Besides following every facet of the Creed, I can’t think of any other lawyer, locally or elsewhere, who exemplifies this particular section of the oath better than Kimberly. She is truly selfless and one thousand percent dedicated to serving South Pinellas County’s most vulnerable residents, often working 20-hour days, sacrificing her weekends and time with her family.

Kim is passionate about helping CLP clients such as women in abusive relationships find justice; tenants in arrears with rent due to Covid-19, illness and other difficulties avoid eviction; teenagers coming out of foster care get benefits and other resources to help them become independent; and many others who desperately need legal help but cannot afford it.

Thanks to her, the Community Law Program, in conjunction with Bay Area Legal Services, is this year’s recipient of the Florida Bar Foundation’s 2022 Goldstein-Van Nortwick Achievement Award, recognizing the Diversion Program. Pinellas County evictions from the CLP. This is the most coveted award in the legal services industry, and it recognizes projects that have a systemic impact on a vulnerable population and involve collaboration. In short, it’s the Oscar of legal aid, and it’s given to one of the smallest nonprofit legal service organizations in the state. CLP operates on a limited budget of less than $500,000 a year, compared to Tampa-based Bay Area legal departments that have multi-million dollar budgets, or annual revenues of $8.3 million. of Greater Miami Legal Services.

Earlier this year, Kimberly also earned a $50,000 Hero Nonprofit Award from the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation, in addition to the numerous grants she single-handedly receives each year to pay her staff and continue to provide services and support. invaluable programs.

Despite CLP’s small size, thanks almost entirely to the efforts, ingenuity and genius of Kimberly Rodgers, the organization has become a leader in helping tenants financially impacted by the Covid pandemic avoid eviction, among its other legal advice programs and clinics.

The Goldstein-Van Nortwick Award of Excellence will be presented at a breakfast on June 23 beginning at 8 a.m. The breakfast will be held at the Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Orlando during the annual Florida Bar convention. Lawyers and non-lawyers are welcome and can purchase tickets and sponsorships through the Florida Bar Foundation, https://thefloridabarfoundation.org/tickets/. To donate, volunteer, or learn more about the Community Law Program, please visit https://lawprogram.org.

When I congratulated Kim on her extraordinary achievement in CLP by receiving the award, Kim responded with her usual humility as follows:

Breakfast is not for me, it’s for CLP! Everything I do and accomplish at CLP is to improve the organization and provide effective help to vulnerable people in the community, and I truly believe we have done that in a big way lately. Thus, breakfast is a celebration of everyone involved at CLP.

Jovita Wysocka Kravitz is a personal injury attorney in Brandon, Florida and St. Petersburg, Florida.