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Public service at its finest

By Janet Green

Janet Green

This past spring and summer, the State Bar led an extraordinary public education initiative across the state.

At 18 different locations — from north to south, east to west, including urban, suburban and rural — volunteers, with the assistance of our staff, put together forums for “maturing Californians” – that is, for those of us who are senior citizens and may not want to use that term yet.

The events were tied to the publication of our newest public education guide, Seniors & the Law, and the turnout was unbelievable. In the course of these events, we distributed nearly 6,000 copies to those who attended. At the same time, we distributed more than a half-million copies of the English version and 75,000 copies of the Spanish version via mail orders around the state.

None of this could have happened without the financial assistance of the Foundation of the State Bar of California and the volunteer assistance of many organizations and agencies throughout the state.

Local AARP chapters, city and county senior centers, the California Com-mission on Aging and the California Retired Teachers Association are just a few of the prominent organizations who took part in this endeavor and helped make it such a huge success.

In particular, I take great pride in the latter, the CRTA. Led by retired teacher and Riverside Division CRTA President Cecil D. Green, who just happens to be my husband, the CRTA became a primary sponsor of the “Seniors” events and led the way with a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 attendees at the Janet Goeske Center in Riverside.

Nearly that many together also attended CRTA events held in Hemet and Palm Springs, and then nearly that number together again attended AARP events in Palm Desert and senior center events in Coachella.

Our forums were educational in that we had on hand various experts in elder law and elder abuse as well as representatives of different agencies, including Adult Protective Services, HICAP (Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Project) and CARE (Curtailing Abuse Related to the Elderly), as well as our own research assistant for “Seniors,” Helen Karr of the California Commission on Aging, who became an attorney on her 64th birthday five years ago.

This was a major effort among many to reach retirees throughout the Inland Empire, and indeed across the state, especially those who need special assistance and those who do not speak English.

Seniors & the Law represents the continuation in our ongoing series of public education initiatives. In 2001, we revised and republished a new version of Kids & the Law: An A-to-Z Guide for Parents, and in 2002 we acquired the rights to and published a revised version of When You Become 18: A Survival Guide for Teenagers.

All a great success, we will be starting the cycle again with a new publication of Kids & the Law to be released next year on Law Day, May 1.

But that doesn’t mean we are done with “Seniors” yet. To the contrary, we are preparing a fall initiative to the Spanish-speaking communities of California, and we have scheduled at least four more public forums.

Copies of the publication also are still available, for free, in both English and Spanish, and coming soon, Chinese. Simply e-mail and provide the number of copies, the language and a complete mailing address.

As one of six public members of the State Bar’s Board of Governors, I am especially proud of this outreach by the state’s premier attorney group to the citizens of California. I am proud of the public education initiative, I am proud of my husband’s role in the public forums, and I see a growing need and audience for Seniors & the Law in the years down the road.

The State Bar and its foundation should ensure that this publication becomes a permanent fixture in this organization’s consumer outreach.

Janet Green of Riverside is a public member of the State Bar Board of Governors, appointed by Gov. Gray Davis, and a director of the Foundation of the State Bar of California.

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