Connecting with our Community: Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers
Corporate social responsibility
By Gerry Luciano, Manager, Fundraising and Communications | January 27, 2023
All of us in some ways are looking for connections. It’s human nature to seek out like-minded people. There’s always that rush of excitement when we first meet someone who has the same interests as we do.
Most companies and organizations are no different. In today’s world of corporate social responsibility, they seek out institutions with like-minded goals that they would like to financial support. Both company and agency have the same objective, to move that agency’s mandate forward.
Abrigo relies on donors who have the same vision as ours to end gender-based violence, educated and informed young people and end poverty. We are thankful to have donors like the team from Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers on our side. The firm recently made a generous $2,500 gift to our agency for our Violence Against Women (VAW) and Youth Outreach programs.
Founded in 1998, the Russell Alexander team focuses on family law. It has 20 lawyers on staff and operates out of offices in Brooklin, Lindsay, Concord, Oshawa, Markham, Peterborough and of course Toronto. With their focus on family law, the Russell Alexander team often has clients dealing with intimate partner violence issues.
Shannon Martell, Russell Alexander’s Community Engagement & Events Manager and Assistant General Manager (right), indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has made an impact on the number of clients they see dealing with violence against women issues. “The pandemic has certainly amplified the number and many of our lawyers have taken the cause to heart. Our firm has hired social service workers to our Intake team over the last two years to provide an extra layer of care. This is a unique approach but the prevalence of domestic violence cases warranted it and they’ve become valuable members of our team.”
Like Abrigo counsellors, many lawyers on the Russell Alexander team work with their clients virtually and that’s how the Russell Alexander team connected with Abrigo. “We wanted to branch out and support local agencies with mandates that aligned with our firm’s priorities. In Toronto, I found the Abrigo Centre online,” says Ms. Martell. “Abrigo’s focus on helping almost 500 women annually with VAW issues certainly got my attention and as I reviewed their website, I found that Abrigo’s approach to working with young people in local schools was amazing as well.”
Abrigo’s Youth Outreach program connects with over 1,500 students each year either in person or virtually at schools or one-on-one at Abrigo. This proactive approach to educate students about what is a healthy relationship and talk openly about issues like online abuse, human trafficking and the stress kids feel today makes a big difference for young people.
“Children are impacted immeasurably by VAW issues and divorce. Just having someone available from outside the home to share their knowledge and show them support is huge,” says Ms. Martell. “I never experienced a wonderful resource like this in school in my day. More awareness and resources are more important than ever. But most young people don’t have this kind of help available to them. Knowing that they can speak to someone, in a safe space, is a special thing and impactful for those young people searching for direction or answers.”
On a recent visit to Abrigo Ms. Martell and other members of her team got a first-hand tour of the agency, met with some of the staff members and counsellors and with some of the clients in our seniors’ program.
“I commend Abrigo for all the work they are doing. It’s been an eye-opening experience and special for me,” says Ms. Martell. “Whether it’s challenging VAW cases or educating young men about toxic masculinity and healthy relationships, the work that goes on daily is a difference maker. We are proud and happy to support an agency like Abrigo and hope to continue our partnership in the future.”
Abrigo is delighted to have made the that special connection with the team at Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers. We look forward to a long and successful journey together to improve the lives of people living in west-end Toronto.