The Roanoke Bar Association has received two Awards of Merit from the Virginia State Bar’s Conference of Local Bar Associations. The awards were presented in June during the VSB’s annual meeting in Virginia Beach.
The association was recognized for its “Barrister Book Buddies” program, which helps children in Roanoke City Public Schools learn to read. Association members, judges, and staff members volunteer one hour a month to an elementary school class, and the bar budgets $1,300 to present a book to each participating student at the end of the year. The program has never turned down a request for a book buddy. Currently, thirty-nine buddies are reading in four schools in disadvantaged areas. The bar started this low-cost program in 1999.
The Roanoke Bar Association and Salem/Roanoke County Bar Association both received Awards of Merit for their participation in “The Rule of Law Project,” established by the Virginia Bar Association to bring citizen lawyers into middle schools. The Roanoke bar participated in the Rule of Law pilot project in 2009. In 2010, Roanoke joined with the Salem/Roanoke County bar to fully implement the program in local schools. They did so with a grant from the Virginia Law Foundation. The lawyer volunteers were trained, and the program was developed in collaboration with professional educators. Awards of Merit recognize excellence in bar projects that serve the bench, the bar, and the people of Virginia.