Children’s Law Center honors advocates

Children’s Law Center honors advocates
September 21
09:05 2017

Children’s Law Center (CLC) celebrated 12 years of advocating for children by honoring some of those who helped make it possible.

The non-profit held its “Birthday Blast” at The Millennium Center last Thursday. The fundraiser featured a music performance by Broken Circle and poetry reading by Wake Forest Provost Emeritus Ed Wilson. The event raised $76,000 for CLC.

Last year, CLC served 316 children in Forsyth and Guilford Counties in cases involving domestic violence, abandonment and neglect, and high conflict custody battles.  CLC Executive Director Iris Sunshine said that the work is vital to the well-being of children in very difficult situations.

“We can increase children’s potential to become emotionally healthy adults and foster…

a sense of empowerment and a sense of hope,”  Sunshine told attendees.

In domestic violence cases, CLC lawyers are appointed by a judge to be Guardians ad Litem, acting as the eyes and ears of the court in regards to children when a protective order has been filed. They’ll investigate the case, including interviewing the parents and children involved and doing research into how the child is doing in school. They then provide the court with recommendations, which may include custody arrangements and counseling.

The organization has five lawyers, including Sunshine, so it’s very reliant on volunteers and pro bono work.  Attorney Lorraine Mortis received the Pro Bono Award. She’s accepted at least 20 referrals of cases that CLC lawyers couldn’t be appointed to, while often waiving or reducing her fee. She said she believes everyone should have representation in court and that lawyers should lend their time to CLC.

“Everyone deserves to have a voice, and your ability to have a voice shouldn’t depend on if you have money in your pocket,” said Mortis.

David Sutton won the volunteer advocate award. He first volunteered at CLC in the summer before he began college and interned there years later in law school. For the last three years he’s volunteered three afternoons a week and helped with the cases of nearly 100 children.

He said the work opened his eyes to the difficult childhoods that so many endure, but he’s proud to be part of fixing those wrongs.

“It’s extremely empowering and saddening at the same time,” said Sutton.

The North Carolina Bar Foundation received the Outstanding Supporter Award, for its generous grant support of CLC since 2005. Caryn McNeill, North Carolina Bar Association and Foundation president, said CLC was a worthy cause that enjoys the support of the local law community.

“They’ve helped over 1,000 children to date who are often in pretty dire circumstances,” she said.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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