This letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Editorial Board appeared in the paper’s December 27, 2019 edition. In it, VIP’s Executive Director, Sophie Bryan, responds to an editorial piece entitled “Commitment to Community.” You can read the original piece here.
We at Philadelphia VIP agree with the Editorial Board that, amidst “a time of hate, divisiveness, and vulnerability” for so many of our neighbors, “turning the tide requires … [us] to share a sense of responsibility for one another.” We see the transformative power of this commitment to community every day. VIP inspires and supports local attorneys to provide pro bono (free) representation for Philadelphians who face legal challenges threatening basic human needs (housing, family composition, income) and cannot afford an attorney. As our volunteer Alex Ginsburg put it, pro bono service “helps us reconnect with the essence of being a lawyer, which is to serve people who need our help.”
Local lawyers are hearing the call to serve in ever greater numbers: VIP placed more than 1,000 cases with volunteer attorneys in 2019, a single-year record. Even so, the need for assistance remains high and the imperative to bring the light, to borrow the Board’s metaphor, is strong. We are inspired by our volunteers, clients, and supporters to do more in 2020.