Hon. Ellen H. Ribaudo
Circuit Judge, Division 18, St. Louis County
Originally published in the November 2019 issue of the St. Louis Lawyer magazine. View in the archives.
As a member of BAMSL, I have been inspired by the focus on service to others as a way of making us better lawyers. BAMSL encourages its members to provide service through using their legal skills to help those who are in need.
When BAMSL's Communications Committee worked on its Building Better Lawyers philosophy, one of the five main concepts was to encourage BAMSL members to be actively involved in community service and philanthropic opportunities.
A call to service was taught to me at a young age. My parents and grandparents were involved in many charitable and civic organizations throughout my life. A few of the groups my family has assisted include St. Joseph's Home for Boys, Boys Hope Girls Hope, Sheltered Workshops and St. Patrick Center. For my senior service project, I assisted elderly nuns with their daily care and was a docent at the shrine for Saint Philippine Duchesne. I enjoyed this work and became very attached to the nuns with whom I worked. In more recent years, I have worked with a number of organizations helping mentor people coming out of prison and children in East St. Louis. These days, I find myself coordinating back to school supplies and Christmas presents through Griffin Center in East. St. Louis and helping with the Join Hands Holiday party. I encounter many from our profession in these endeavors as Griffin Center and Join Hands have many lawyer volunteers.
None of the service work was or has been done for recognition or gain, but out of a genuine desire to help those who have less than us. If you are not already involved, I encourage everyone to get involved in the numerous community service projects that BAMSL offers.
- The Motion for Kids (MFK) event, the Saint Louis Bar Foundation's annual holiday party for thousands of metropolitan St. Louis area children who are in the foster care system, or children whose lives have been severely impacted by the criminal justice system. The holiday party is held each December for approximately 2,500 metropolitan St. Louis area children. This year's party was held on Sat., Dec. 14, 2018, at the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University campus (1 S. Compton Ave., St. Louis, MO 63103).
- The St. Louis Attorneys Against Hunger (STLAAH) initiative, which provides financial support through donations from BAMSL members to Meals on Wheels, Operation Food Search and St. Patrick Center. Additionally, along with the BAMSL Young Lawyers Division (YLD), the STLAAH committee encourages volunteering for Operation Food Search's Rap 'N Pack events; serving lunch at St. Patrick Center; packing meals at Food Outreach; and several other community outreach opportunities throughout the year.
- The Read Across America program, which provides legal volunteers to read to elementary school students on National Read Across America Day in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, is a great event that exposes young students to members of the legal community.
- BAMSL encourages and provides support to all lawyers to participate in its pro bono initiatives, including the annual Pro Bono Challenge, the annual Pro Bono Week Celebration, and the numerous pro bono offerings at the U.S. District for the Eastern District of Missouri (see www.bamsl.org/ProBono for more information and opportunities).
- The High School Mock Trial program, which helps attorneys assist in forming a desire for high school students to participate in the judicial system.
The holiday season often is the time when people think to give back more, but I encourage everyone to make this a regular and routine part of your life throughout the year. I also encourage everyone to pass the tradition of service down to the next generation of people in your life.