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Richmond law firm recognizes local ‘heroes’

Firm president Edward Allen (center) introduces 2019 Hometown Heroes (Photo by Caroline Martin)

Firm president Edward Allen (center) introduces 2019 Hometown Heroes (Photo by Caroline Martin)

“We find our lives in spending them in the service of others.”

That’s the motto that George Allen Sr., one of the founders of the Allen Law Firm, set for his firm. Since its beginning in 1910, the Richmond-based law firm has dedicated itself to being a “community focused firm,” said Elizabeth Roberts, marketing programs director for Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen in Richmond.

The firm, known popularly as Allen & Allen, regularly works with charitable organizations, including the annual Legal Food Frenzy, the commonwealth’s largest and longest-running corporate fundraising competition that generates hundreds of thousands of pounds in food donations for Virginia Food Banks, according to the website.

Due to COVID-19, this year’s food drive was canceled — so firm leaders shifted their focus on other ways they can help.  The firm therefore dedicated the month of May to raising funds on behalf of food banks throughout the state, including  FeedMore, the Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank and the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in order to help meet the heightened needs of the firm’s communities.

Allen & Allen raised more than $13,000 in donations, and matched $10,000 in their own donations, within 30 days.

“We really wanted to respond to what was going on” and make a difference “when people need food the most,” Roberts said.

In another response to current events, this month the firm donated another $10,000 to the Urban League of Greater Richmond, a non-profit organization whose mission is to assist under-served citizens in the achievement of social and economic equality through advocacy, collaboration, direct services and research, according to the website.

Roberts said the decision to make this donation was driven by nationwide protests and the recent push to address police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25.

“We wanted to focus on things related to systematic racism to push our commitment to providing equal access to legal services,” Roberts said, adding that the firm has an internal team that coordinates pro bono services for organizations throughout the Richmond area.

Allen & Allen’s good work doesn’t stop there. For its 100th anniversary, the firm launched its “Hometown Heroes” program in 2010. Every April, the law firm shares stories of “local heroes” that generate positive change in their communities and the lives of others.

“We solicit nominations from the community all across Virginia,” Roberts said. “We simply ask people to nominate anyone that is a hero to them.”

Every year, Roberts said it “runs a gamut” in terms of what these heroes are doing to help their community. Previously named heroes include teachers, coaches, foster parents, non-profit founders, kind neighbors and everything in between.

This year, the firm dedicated the Hometown Heroes program to honor individuals helping to fight the spread of COVID-19. A total of 28 “heroes” were chosen for their commitment to making a difference during these unprecedented times.

“It was amazing to see how many people are doing so many great things during this time,” Roberts said.

Some of this year’s heroes include Carina Carden, a Petersburg resident who has sewn more than 800 masks for those in need; Kate Ellwood, a restaurant manager who launched the Charlottesville Restaurant Fund to raise money for unemployed restaurant workers in her community; and Cameron Bailey, a pastor in Kenbridge who bought an FM transmitter and began offering drive-in church services when the statewide stay-at-home order was announced on March 24.

“We really wanted to recognize… and give back to the community, because without our clients we’re nothing,” Roberts said.

In previous years, nominated heroes were honored at community-based events, such as throwing the first pitch at a Richmond Flying Squirrels game. With social distancing guidelines still in place, the firm is nominating its heroes through radio and television commercials throughout the month.

“That first year we honored 100 people. After that, we realized we couldn’t stop at 100. There are so many heroes to name,” Roberts said. “We just had to continue and have for 11 years now.”

Have you or your firm been doing good work and spreading kindness lately? If so, VLW would love to hear from you. Send in your good news to [email protected].