A longstanding and ongoing commitment to the community is an important part of Jackson Walker’s culture. Houston partner Jamila M. Brinson‘s work with the Houston Bar Association (HBA) AIDS Outreach Committee is one example. Jamila’s prior experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Saint Lucia inspired her to work with the HBA committee. Now, she leverages her position with JW to ask other firms and local businesses to help Houston families dealing with HIV/AIDS.
Greg Lambert: Hi, everyone. I’m Greg Lambert, it’s May 19th, and this is Jackson Walker Fast Takes. A longstanding and ongoing commitment to the community is an important part of Jackson Walker’s culture. Houston partner Jamila Brinson’s work with the Houston Bar Association’s AIDS Outreach Committee is one example. I asked Jamila to come on the show and tell us more.
Jamila, thanks for taking the time to talk with me.
Jamila Brinson: Happy to be here.
Greg Lambert: Would you mind letting us know about the mission for the Houston Bar Association’s AIDS Outreach Committee and what it means to you to be involved in this mission?
Jamila Brinson: Sure. So, the AIDS Outreach Committee was formed in the 1990s, and the initial mission was to provide legal and educational support to individuals who are infected or affected with HIV or AIDS. Over the years, the mandate has changed per the needs of the community, really, in Houston. Now, the committee really focuses on two main programs. One is its annual holiday adoptive family drive, which the committee has done at least 20 years if I’m not mistaken, and that occurs around the Christmas holiday. The second program is a spring program that involves and that supports Bering Omega House, which is a residential hospice in Houston that supports individuals who are in the last stages of HIV/AIDS. The committee really believes that it’s important to support those individuals who are infected or affected with HIV in Houston, because this has been a problem for a long time. I think as funding has kind of ebbed and flowed, it’s been an issue that’s at the forefront and not at the forefront. But it is a cause that does continue to impact a lot of people, and it’s something that we should all be aware of and help out where we can.
Greg Lambert: What is it that motivated you to be on this committee?
Jamila Brinson: The reason I’m passionate about this cause is because I was a Peace Corps volunteer. I worked on the island nation of Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean, and my entire assignment was to work in the area of HIV/AIDS education. I worked with the Ministry of Health, and I was the liaison to its HIV/AIDS support group for the island. I helped them to develop programming and to develop an institutional structure. I got to work very closely with some amazing women who were supporting their families and who had been diagnosed, who couldn’t share their status with anyone for fear of stigma and discrimination. It became something that I saw on a daily basis. Even though I’m practicing as an attorney now and I’m not involved full-time, it’s still an area that is important to me.
Greg Lambert: Can you tell me a little more about the work that you’ve done on the committee?
Jamila Brinson: I’ve been a member of the committee for several years – probably about five years. In that role, I’ve helped to recruit firms and individuals and corporations to adopt individuals or families infected or affected with HIV to provide just some cheer around the holidays. You’d be surprised at some of the requests that we get. You would think it’d be for these huge, amazing, amazing gifts. Really, oftentimes, the requests are for things like pillows and pots and shoes and perfume and books. So, it’s really an honor to just be able to recruit as many individuals and companies and firms as possible to be able to provide just a little bit of cheer. In addition, in 2017-18, and that year, we recruited—it’s been the highest number of adopters in the program since the committee began, and we were able to provide gifts to about 300 individuals and their families. I’ve also been Jackson Walker’s liaison or coordinator, and coordinating Jackson Walker’s participation in the AIDS Outreach holiday drive.
Greg Lambert: Yes, I get your emails every holiday.
Jamila Brinson: Don’t delete them.
Greg Lambert: I do not. I do not. Well, Jamila, thank you very much for talking with me and for taking the time to explain about HBA’s AIDS Outreach Committee.
Jamila Brinson: Thank you, Greg.
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