We’re just about at our spring thaw. Flowers will be blooming soon. Spring training is well underway.
The COVID vaccines in Ohio are going about as well as could be expected. I’ve had my first dose and am close to getting my second. COVID numbers are down. The curfew is a memory. March Madness is back. The Cavs are showing some promise, at least at times, and a few of us can start going to games. I’m planning a big motorcycle adventure. I even went to a movie. It’s all positive. Well, mostly positive. And I will be positive this month.
The CMBA is on a roll. We, like most professional associations, have been hard hit by the pandemic. Our staff has been super throughout though. They’ve worked so hard to help us help you. I can’t thank them enough. It’s really been a team effort.
Our finances took a big hit though, just like those of many of you and many of your employers and clients. However, we received a forgivable PPP loan, which should keep us out of the “OMG” loss category and back into the simple “nonprofit” category, which is where we want to be. Although I’ve already thanked them, and our Board has thanked them, I can do that publicly here. So, thank you CEO Becky Ruppert McMahon and Director of Finance & Operations Dave Mechenbier, and your staffs, for putting us first in line in getting the loan.
Our programming has really been off- the-charts-good and meaningful. Our REAL (Racial Equity and the Law) action programs were kicked off last month, when the co-chairs of each action program introduced themselves and gave their thoughts on where they were going to take their program, and most importantly, how volunteers could help make their program a success. Volunteers in the program I’m on, Continuing Criminal Justice Reform, were asked to watch the County Council discuss potential changes in the way persons arrested in the County are processed. I have to say it looks like Cuyahoga County is moving in the right direction. The CMBA will do what it can to keep important topics in the public’s eye and moving forward, especially those dealing with the way justice is administered. All the programs have now had their kickoff meetings. It’s not too late to join if you’re interested.
Our Veterans Legal Initiative is also getting legs. We have already had two free CLEs for those who want to volunteer to help at our Veterans Services Clinics. Much more is planned, including getting VA accreditation. Count me in! I hope I can count on you too, here or in some other way.
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending, really participating in, our Foundation’s Sweet 16th Rock the Foundation gala. What an amazing event! You really need to experience it. It’s on our website, www.clemetrobar.org, but if you’re reading this electronically, here is the link: https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9hx9bJPqvI. Many thanks to CMBF President and former CMBA President Carter Strang and the event’s co-chairs, CMBF President-Elect Lee Ann O’Brien and Larry Zukerman. Rock 16 hit all sorts of records, which will support all of our charitable programs, but it was just plain fun. Plus, we got to honor, and I must say they honored us right back, Dean Lee Fisher and Peggy Zone Fisher. Dean Fisher even graced us with a song. You must see it.
3Rs is back. As I write this, I’m not sure how. Maybe virtually, maybe not, maybe something in between. But however we do it, CMSD and East Cleveland School District students and our volunteers will be the better for it. Thank you to all of you who helped transition 3Rs to make it work. Also, I would like to thank those of you who helped our area’s students be able to connect to their schools virtually when it was so hard for some of them to do so. Your efforts will change lives.
I could go on, but let me close by emphasizing that our Bar Association is poised as well as it could be to take advantage of the opportunities we will have when we can really meet you at the Bar. We’re planning two special outdoor events: our annual golf outing at Lakewood Country Club in Westlake on June 14th and our annual meeting at the zoo on July 13th. Details coming shortly. Stay safe.
Joseph N. Gross is the president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and an engaged member since 1992. He is also a partner and the general counsel of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP, the immediate past president of the Cleveland Law Library Association, and a master bencher of the Cleveland Employment Inn of Court. He can be reached at (216) 363- 4163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.