Massachusetts Bar Foundation Celebrates Grant Recipients and Presents President’s Awards

The Massachusetts Bar Foundation (MBF) recently presented President’s Awards to Fitchburg attorney James T. Van Buren, Esq., and Robert S. Molloy, Esq., of Destination XL Group, Inc, in Canton.  Given annually at the MBF’s Grantee Receptions, held in Worcester at Bowditch and Dewey, LLP, and in Boston at the Massachusetts Bar Association, the President’s Award recognizes exceptional MBF supporters for their commitment to increasing access to justice for the most vulnerable in Massachusetts.

Robert E. Longden of Bowditch and Dewey, LLP, MBF President Janet F. Aserkoff, MBF Grantee Speaker Dayanna J. Moreno of Ascentria Community Services, and MBF President's Award Recipient James T. Van Buren

Robert E. Longden of Bowditch and Dewey, LLP, MBF President Janet F. Aserkoff, MBF Grantee Speaker Dayanna J. Moreno of Ascentria Community Services, and MBF President's Award Recipient James T. Van Buren

Mr. Van Buren was honored for both his dedication to the MBF and his advocacy for access to justice and civil legal services. Van Buren’s involvement with the MBF began in 1991, when he joined the MBF Society of Fellows. He has served as a Grant Advisory Committee member annually, reviewing programs across the state to ensure that MBF funds are being used as effectively as possible. In addition to his work with the MBF, Van Buren has been involved with a number of other legal services organizations, including Community Legal Aid of Worcester, the Mass. Access to Justice Commission, and the Worcester County Bar Foundation, to name a few.

“Jim is a champion of the MBF and our mission,” said MBF President Janet F. Aserkoff of Boston’s Rappaport Aserkoff & Gelles, “his vast knowledge of the needs of low-income communities, as well as of the state’s legal services landscape, makes him a wonderful resource to the MBF.  It is our great privilege to honor his outstanding support of legal services and the Massachusetts Bar Foundation in this way.”

MBF Executive Director Elizabeth M. Lynch, MBF President's Award Recipient Robert S. Molloy, and MBF President Janet F. Aserkoff

MBF Executive Director Elizabeth M. Lynch, MBF President's Award Recipient Robert S. Molloy, and MBF President Janet F. Aserkoff

A devoted volunteer and generous donor since joining the MBF Society of Fellows in 2008, Bob Molloy has volunteered annually for the MBF’s grant review process, helping to ensure the availability of civil legal services for those in need. Molloy has volunteered with other justice organizations as well, including MetroWest Legal Services, from whom he received the Nancy King Award in 2011 in recognition of his service as co-chair of the MWLS Fundraising Committee, a post he has held since 1999. He is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Destination XL Group.

“Bob truly represents the very best of the legal profession. His strong commitment to working to increase access to justice, and his generosity towards the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, has not gone unnoticed. We are proud to honor him, both in recognition and with gratitude, for all that he does,” said Aserkoff.

The receptions were also an opportunity for the MBF to celebrate its current grant recipients and their work, which includes providing civil legal services to people who otherwise could not afford them and improving the administration of justice in the Commonwealth. These programs help thousands of individuals and families in Massachusetts who have legal issues relating to domestic violence, housing, access to special education services, healthcare, discrimination, and many more. Dayanna Moreno, Esq., program manager of Ascentria Community Services’ Immigration Legal Assistance Program, in Worcester and Boston University law student James van Wagtendonk, a 2016 recipient of the MBF’s Legal Intern Fellowship and former intern at Greater Boston Legal Services in Boston were this years’ grantee speakers.

This year, the MBF awarded over $2.6 million in grants through its annual Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Grants Program. These grants will fund 92 programs conducted by 60 nonprofit organizations throughout Massachusetts. Representatives from many of these organizations were in attendance.