LUMBERTON — Local attorneys got out of the courtroom on Thursday, rolled up their sleeves and went to work erecting a privacy fence for the Southeastern Family Violence Center, constructing a handicap ramp for a Rowland resident, repairing a ceiling in a storage closet at My Refuge soup kitchen, and making presentations at several of the county’s schools.
The activities were all part of the Robeson County’s Bar Association’s celebration of Law Day, which is held nationally every May 1. The local bar, which currently includes more than 100 members, has used Law Day the past several years to perform community service projects.
“This is great. It’s a change of pace for us,” said Grady Hunt, a Pembroke attorney who was one of several putting up the privacy fence. “We are helping to give back to the community.”
Truett Canady, who practices law out of St. Pauls, was quick to agree.
“I love doing this,” Canady said. “If I had my way, we should get out and do this kind of project at least twice a year.”
Lumberton attorney Edward Bullard ended up helping to put up the fence after the school he usually visits on Law Day did not participate in this year’s celebration. This year 20 attorneys made presentations to students at 12 of the county’s schools, including all the high schools.
“I have been volunteering ever since we started doing these projects,” Bullard said. “This is an opportunity for us to do something. This is a good chance for people to see our good side, not just what they see of us in court.”
Emily Locklear, executive director of the Southeastern Family Violence Center, said the privacy fence will be a great addition to the property in downtown Lumberton.
“We don’t have a fence here now,” she said. “This fence is really needed for the confidentiality of our clients.”
According to statistics provided by Locklear, the center in 2013 provided services for 1,158 people. Of those served, 95 adults and 113 children used the organization’s safe house to escape an abusive relationship.
At My Refuge on West Fifth Street, attorneys Mark Brooks, Scott Mathews and Daniel Locklear repaired a hole in the ceiling of a storage closet that director Rosemarie G. Glenn, better known as Ms. Rose, said has been there before her nonprofit began using the building to provide food and temporary shelter for impoverished or under-privileged people.
“It’s great doing this kind of project,” Brooks said. ‘We need to get out more often and into the community.”
Locklear added that he believes it’s important for attorneys and others to get out and volunteer to do things that benefit their communities.
“Community is fundamental to a good society,” he said.
Matthews, who regularly volunteers at My Refuge, said he would like to “encourage” more people to volunteer at the facility.
This year, retired Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear and current Superior Court Judge Greg Bell shared the responsibilities of overseeing the administration of the Bar Association’s Law Day projects.
Locklear said that the projects are paid for with contributions to the association.
“There is always a little left over from our projects,” Locklear said. “If we have any money left over it goes to the Robeson County Church and Community Center. Last year there was $700 left over that we gave to the center to use at their discretion.”