Guest Post: To Dream the Impossible Dream…

“To dream the impossible dream…to fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow…to run where the brave dare not go
To right the unrightable wrong …to love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary …to reach the unreachable star.”
— “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha

At Tuesday night’s donor reception and lobby dedication for the Telesca Center for Justice, Justin Vigdor, chair of the Partnership for Equal Justice Campaign, quoted lyrics from “The Impossible Dream.”

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Being a fan of musicals, “The Impossible Dream” and its call-to-arms partner “Man of La Mancha” are two of my favorites. Inspired last night, I actually listened to them this morning taking an early morning walk (yes, they are on my playlist along with many other musicals).

This morning as I was walking and listening, a thought popped into my head…well actually a question. It’s a question that has been on the peripheral of my thoughts over the last week. It started when I attended GRAWA’s Installation Dinner last week and listened to the inspiring Anne Kress and Melanie Wolk. It continued when I read the headline last Friday in The Daily Record: “Obama Nominates Wolford.” And it was on the tip of my tongue at  last night’s reception. And the question is: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

It’s a question I actually saw on one of those Quotables greeting cards (my favorite line of cards). And if that is question, then surely “Create the Telesca Center for Justice” is one of the answers.

Co-locating the legal service providers under one roof is a dream that Hanna Cohn had before she passed away. Mary always tells me that Hanna was the secretary of the MCBA Board of Trustees at the time she started at the MCBA and immediately took her under her wing. In the few shorts months Mary knew Hanna before she passed away, she learned about her dream and vision for co-locating the four legal service agencies to a single location. It’s funny – dreams have a way of being catching.

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It’s a dream that has been passed on to extraordinary champions of justice like the Hon. Michael Telesca and Justin Vigdor. It’s a dream that has been supported by government officials like David Gantt, Lovely Warren and Joseph Robach. And it’s a dream that became a reality thanks to so many volunteers, donors, lawyers and judges. It took the cooperation and willingness of the four legal service partners – Empire Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of Rochester, Monroe County Legal Assistance and Volunteer Legal Services Project – and the MCBA and the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar, along with each of their executive directors, board chairs and staff.

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All of these folks came together under the idea that equal access to justice is not the privilege of the rich, the lucky or the strong; it the right of all that are personified in those three simple words “We the people…”

According to Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” We are now at the point of working together, and to quote Judge Telesca: “We’ve only just begun!” The building is named after a man whose life work epitomizes justice and so the dedicated people working on behalf of their clients in this building will continue to do the same: “To right the unrightable wrong…to fight the unbeatable foe…to reach the unreachable star.”

And as the “quixotic” heroine (Justin’s reference, not mine) of this story, it’s only fitting that Hanna’s portrait, exquisitely created by Mary Callery DeCresce, stands framed in the lobby, among others. The smile and sparkle in the eye that Mary perfectly has portrayed seems so appropriate now looking at the beacon we have shining here today at the Four Corners.

If you haven’t seen the lobby yet, I encourage you to stop by.

Thanks for checking in….

Liz Novak

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