A few months ago, I walked into our Philadelphia Navy Yard office and saw Deirdre Connelly, President, North America Pharmaceuticals, with Renee Chenault-Fattah, a news anchor from NBC10, the Philadelphia NBC affiliate, on a stage in our atrium. I had just stumbled upon GSK’s presentation of its 2013 IMPACT Awards to Philadelphia organizations who make a difference in the communities they serve. It was an inspiring event and a fun way to spend the morning.
One of the awardees was Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) —a pro bono legal organization that helps serve the homeless by building self-sufficiency through high-quality legal services. After the awards presentation, I had an impromptu conversation in the company gym with Michael Fleming, the head of our US Community Partnerships team. He put me and a few colleagues from GSK's Legal team us in touch with Marsha Cohen, HAP’s executive director.
After an inspiring meeting with Marsha about the HAP mission, the GSK Legal team signed up to help “adopt a shelter” for a HAP legal clinic at St. John’s Hospice in Center City Philadelphia. Throughout the year, a team of volunteers from GSK will work in partnership with attorneys from the Dechert and Klehr Harrison law firms, who help staff legal in-take clinics there every other month.
On April 11, we attended the first clinic and helped clients with a number of legal issues, including seeking birth certificates (essential for obtaining work/benefits etc.), veterans’ benefits, and social security disability benefits. My colleague, Tom Smith, put it best: “Not only did I find the clients’ genuine appreciation for our help very rewarding, but I also found the social workers and lay people from the local churches, who were volunteering their time to lend a hand to someone less fortunate, both inspiring and quite humbling.”
And it all began with a little inspiration prompted by hearing about how GSK supports community organizations!