Friday, October 16, 2009

AIDS Legal Referral Panel Celebrates 26 Years

AIDS Legal Referral Panel (ALRP) celebrated 26 years at their annual From the Heart Reception and Auction held at the War Memorial Building Green Room in San Francisco on October 14, 2009. The event drew a large turnout that filled the room with attorneys, legal staffers, and their friends. ALRP has handled over 50,000 legal matters, with the skills of more than 700 attorneys since 1983.

The event began with enthusiastic ALRP executive director Bill Hirsh’s welcome. He thanked all the donors for their help in making it possible for ALRP services to reach people with HIV/AIDS. Then he introduced progressive icon California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, who made a point of inviting the guests to get in touch with his office with their concerns and needs.

The awards presentation began when host San Francisco City Supervisor David Campos, the popular Mission District activist, was introduced and he announced the Clint Hockenberry Award for Larry Katzin. Katzin spoke with emotion about meeting with men who were dying of AIDS, to help them with their legal needs. He stepped from the stage and was surrounded by his friends and co-workers. Amir Atashi Rang was honored with the Attorney of the Year Award, and his family was there to applaud him. Jones Day was awarded Law Firm of the Year and attorney Kevyn Orr accepted the plaque, with complimentary remarks.

California State Senator Mark Leno’s aide Anna Damiani was introduced and her proclamations for the honorees were distributed. There also were proclamations from US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and San Francisco Assessor Phil Ting.

The auction had extraordinary items to peruse, and the clever Frank Bizzarro of Bizzarro's Gala Auctions took over with assistance from effervescent ALRP development director Jim McBride to raise a large amount of much-needed funds.

Notables at the reception included activist attorney Paul Melbostad, BALIF (Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom) co-chair Rebecca Prozan, and Project Open Hand executive director Tom Nolan. The buffet featured lamb chops, the most desired hors d’oeuvres of the year. Gilead and Target were two of the major donors, and their generosity was applauded.

Executive director Bill Hirsh’s warm closing remarks were a signal for silent auction bidders to rush to the hallway where winners’ names were posted. ALRP volunteer coordinator Ana Montano deserves much of the credit for the event’s success, and her mastery of matching of workers to duties should be the envy of professional party consultants.

[Photo caption: 10/14/09 — Attorney Kevyn Orr accepts the ALRP Law Firm of the Year Award on behalf of Jones Day.]

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