Charitable work can happen anywhere and take almost any form. You’ve heard the pay-it-forward stories of the guy in the coffee line who picks up the tab for a stranger. Or the generous diners at a restaurant who’ll spot a young family nearby and decide to buy their meal.
For a group of Kansas City women, most of them lawyers and law students, charity begins in Municipal Court.
This summer, as part of an annual program called Step Up, the group helped extract 50 women from legal jams, easing efforts to get their lives back on course.
The worthy focus is to clear parking and speeding tickets for the women, most of whom receive family help through Operation Breakthrough or shelter in cases of domestic violence.
As they’ve done in seven previous years, staff members from the Kansas City prosecutor’s office and volunteers from the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City gathered one afternoon at the court to resolve as many as 170 cases.
Outstanding warrants usually present significant obstacles for women who are trying to rebuild their lives by seeking housing and jobs. The women can’t afford to pay the fines, and under this program they agree to community service as a tradeoff.
The lawyers and judges who participate deserve applause but not just for their gift of time. Their vision is notable, too, for identifying a problem that besets people in their world and vowing to make things right.
They didn’t turn their eyes. They didn’t kick the proverbial can down the road.
They rolled up their lawyerly sleeves and have tried to make a difference in other people’s lives.
That’s charitable work at its finest.