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Wayne Law and WSU School of Social Work team up to offer warmth

December 17, 2012

Casey Stengel said, “Gettin' good players is easy. Gettin' 'em to play together is the hard part.”

And that’s where Randi Williams comes in. She’s a Wayne State University master of social work program intern with Wayne Law’s Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer (LAPC) program. Williams gathered good players — students, professors, alumni and friends — together to form a team for a program she developed called Winter Wishes.

LAPC is an Equal Justice Works Fellowship project of Wayne Law 2011 alumna Kathy Smolinski. She worked with Wayne Law’s Disability Law Clinic to develop that project, a medical-legal partnership with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center to focus on the legal needs of low-income cancer patients in Detroit, and the first program of its kind in Michigan as well as one of the first of its kind in the nation.

 Williams, working with LAPC, reached out to various professionals including Smolinski, who has her M.S.W. as well as J.D., and the clinic professors at Wayne Law, to see if she could come up with a community-based, holiday giving program. The team members focused on winter warmth.

“Making this the primary goal of our program seemed ideal, as some individuals represented through the clinics are going to be experiencing their first winter in Michigan,” said Williams, who has been involved in similar programs for several years. “I know the need. I have seen the faces of people in need.”

Winter Wishes was launched in November.

“Clinic students were invited to participate in a volunteer service project at Focus: HOPE’s Westside Food Center, and to provide warm winter coats, clothing and blankets to the most needy clients represented through (Wayne Law’s) Asylum and Immigration Clinic, the Disability Law Clinic and LAPC,” Williams said. “In an effort to include all the clinics, a nonprofit from the Business & Community Law Clinic was invited to submit their wish list, in an effort to help them thrive.”

Williams also recruited Richard Smith, assistant professor in the WSU School of Social Work and one of her instructors. She got permission to recruit fellow colleagues from one of his courses, and blended law students and social work students to create “a hard-working volunteer team” at the Westside Food Center.

She also set up a donation table in the Law School lobby and sent out personal appeals to staff and students. Those who donated were rewarded with homemade goodies.

“The Law School Admissions Office made a large donation to the program in lieu of purchasing gifts for one another this year,” Williams said. “Andrew’s on the Corner, pro bono attorneys for LAPC, law students, faculty, staff, friends and family also made contributions to the Winter Wishes program.”

Her team developed some major hitting power. Cash donations allowed for the purchase of new coats, gloves, scarves, blankets and boots as well as gas cards, gift cards and more.

“Across the board, the program was a success,” Williams said. “Distribution of the items began on Dec. 7. They were received warmly, and Warriors on Wheels, the local nonprofit included through the Business & Community Law Clinic, was ecstatic to receive a gift card and all-in-one printer. ”

Photo caption:  Showing some of the warm winter gear collected at Wayne Law are Randi Williams (left), a master of social work intern working with the Disability Law Clinic’s Legal Advocacy for People with Cancer program; Wayne Law alumna Kathy Smolinski, who developed and administers LAPC;  and Wayne Law alumnus Min Jian Huang, clinic program coordinator at the Law School.