Bay Ridge Lawyers, inspired by past president Lisa Becker, ‘Light Up the Night’
Chuck Otey's Pro Bono Barrister
Annual Event Set for Oct. 13 Aids Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
“Pro Bono Barrister,” now in its 18th year, is a column wherein we focus on “the good that lawyers do.” No other profession is more vital to maintaining our rule of law and, at the same time, no other profession has received so much more than its share of bad press over the years.
In keeping with our mission, we focus now on a true neighborhood bar association — the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA). Even those of us who are familiar with the court systems in our other four New York counties would be hard put to name — or even find — such a respected and longstanding band of barristers. The BRLA is well along into its seventh decade of service.
Some of our state’s top lawyers, judges and officeholders — including former Gov. Hugh Carey and Sen. Chris Mega — have taken part in its law-enhancing agenda.
Many of its members have gone on to head other groups, such as the Brooklyn Bar Association (e.g. Larry DiGiovanna, Andrea Bonina and Rose Ann C. Branda) and the Kings County American Inn of Court (e.g. Hon. Gerard Rosenberg). We must add that Branda subsequently headed the Kings County Columbian Lawyers Association as well.
One outstanding barrister, Ray Ferrier, has served the BRLA in just about every capacity over the past 50 years and, appropriately, he will be the first living BRLA member ever to be awarded the status of “fellow” at an upcoming fall meeting.
Ferrier is active in the broader community and will be honored for his civic service as a Pioneer of Third Avenue when that volunteer organization holds its 25th Annual Pioneer Reception on Oct. 22 at the Bay Ridge Manor.
With the BRLA, it’s not just about law; it’s about supporting causes that matter to everybody. A good example is the group’s strong backing of the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light the Night Walk,” set for Oct. 13. This annual event raises funds to battle lymphoma and other serious blood diseases.
In the case of the BRLA, this cause is personal. The group’s very concerned members got involved several years back when then-Vice President Lisa Becker was stricken and faced life-threatening consequences. Her courage was an inspiration to her colleagues and her community.
This year, we’re pleased to report, it is a vibrant and smiling Becker who is organizing and leading the BRLA effort, which will get underway at 5:30 p.m. on the Great Lawn of the College of Staten Island, 2800 Victory Blvd., Staten Island, NY 10314.
Becker’s Message Invites Lawyers and All of Us Who Care to Help
Becker’s letter, which she sent to BRLA officers, board members and committee chairs, among others, reads, “It is that time of year again for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s ‘Light the Night Walk’ … The actual walk starts at 7 p.m. sharp. Last year, several members of our association met at about 6 p.m. and we walked together at this amazing event. We raised almost $3,300 and we received an award for raising the second-largest amount!
“We had such a nice turnout last year and I would love for everyone to try to attend this year and walk with us as we try to raise lots of [money] for this very important cause. You all know how important this cause is to me and how important it is for them to find a cure for these dreadful blood diseases! Thank you!”
To donate to this worthwhile cause, visit the BRLA fundraising page at https://pages.lightthenight.org/nyc/StatenIs18/bayridgelawyersassociationlisabeckermercante.
It’s worth pointing out that the BRLA has been consistent in the quality of its leadership, as incoming President Joseph Vasile is succeeding Margaret Stanton.
Each president likes to leave a stamp on his or her tenure, and we’re sure that Stanton is particularly pleased that the holiday party she and the other officers initiated last year for the benefit of appreciative children will become a tradition in the years to come.
Vasile will be assisted by a talented slate, including Vice President Mary Ann Stathopoulos, Recording Secretary William S. Gillen, Treasurer Dominic Famulari and Corresponding Secretary Adam Kalish. Class of 2017-2019 board members are Yolanda Guadagnoli, Helen Galette, Grace Borrino and Mario Romano. Members of the Class of 2018-2020 are Charles Boulbol, Antoinetta M. Monaco, Matthew Elias and Steve Spinelli.
Full disclosure: I must admit to a certain degree of favoritism where the BRLA is concerned. I’ve been a BRLA member for a half-century and was honored to serve a term as president back in the last millennium.
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