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Spreading selfless support

Divya Potdar

Divya Potdar

As we near the holidays, people tend to feel more generous. (‘Tis the season for giving, after all.) Young lawyers who may not be in a position to contribute financially can consider donating their time to various worthy organizations.

As someone who has organized volunteer groups at several local soup kitchens, I know their volunteer schedules are usually full during this time of the year. So I encourage people to look to other non-mainstream organizations such as Adelante Latina, an after-school program that sets up young Latina women to reach for a better future, helping equip them for college and beyond.

Last month, the Young Lawyers Section of the MSBA teamed up with the Maryland Association for Justice to organize a fundraiser for Adelante. At the event, Leonor Blum, who founded the program in 2013 with 12 sophomores, reported the program now serves more than 30 Baltimore city students. The program relies on the support of volunteers to tutor students once a week, assist with SAT prep classes or mentor the young women throughout their high school careers. Each student who participates in the program for all three years and who enrolls in college receives a one-year, $3,000 scholarship to assist with her education.

An Argentine immigrant and professor emerita at Notre Dame of Maryland University, Blum started the program to serve underprivileged and promising girls in Baltimore public high schools. The participants must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA, demonstrate competency in English, ambition, and leadership potential.

Elinor Spokes, the program coordinator, told us that 98 percent of Latinas want to graduate from high school but 41 percent do not graduate with their class. These young women are often disadvantaged when taking standardized college placement tests because they come from households where Spanish is the only language spoken, and many are first-time college attendees
from their families.

A recent graduate of the program spoke to the crowd in attendance regarding her journey as a Dreamer. She completed the Adelante program while at Baltimore Polytechnic High School and is now attending the University of Baltimore, where she hopes to major in psychology.

Given our current political climate, the future of immigrants in the U.S. remains precarious. This program is one of the few ways Dreamers can obtain legal status once they reach the age of majority.

If you’re looking for a shorter time commitment, join the Young Lawyers Division of the Bar Association of Baltimore City on Tuesday, Dec. 12, at 5:30 p.m. at the Maryland Science Center for its annual Holiday Party for Children Living in Shelters, where
several hundred children and their parents are transported from homeless shelters around the city to the Science Center. The guests enjoy a night of entertainment, a hot meal, a visit with Santa and holiday gifts.

Happy Holidays! I will be back next year with more travel blogs-turned-legal blogs.

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