FH safety efforts to be recognized

Michigan Community Resources, home of Community Legal Resources, will honor six individuals and organizations who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to pro bono legal work and community-based service. Hosted at Cass Corridor Commons on Thursday, December 6th, MCR’s 14th Annual Event will showcase the most dedicated of its volunteer attorneys and the most inspiring of its partners and client nonprofit organizations. 

The theme of the event is Turning Point to symbolize the changing realities facing the private, public, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and how each of these sectors is working together to improve community quality of life. 

“The event this year acknowledges the challenges we face as a community and how it is now time to work harder and smarter, but most importantly, together,” said Geaneen Arends, board chair of Michigan Community Resources and attorney at Butzel Long. 

“We are at a transition, a turning point in the work. It is not easy, but I think amazing things are ahead, and we want our event to acknowledge future possibilities.” 

Awards will be presented for law firm of the year, volunteer of the year, partner of the year, and outstanding community achievement. 

This year’s honoree of Law Firm of the Year is Dykema Gossett, PLLC. “Heidi Naasko and Dykema have supported us through in many ways over the years,” said Heidi Alcock, chief executive officer of Michigan Community Resources. “And this year they accepted almost double the referrals than any other firm and are instrumental in helping us serve more communities across Michigan.” 

This year’s honoree for Partner of the Year will be shared between Detroit Collaborative Design Center and Detroit Economic Growth Association for their partnership with MCR on civic engagement for the Detroit Works Project. 

“We are honored to receive this award because we cherish wonderful partnerships,” said Dan Pitera, executive director of DCDC. “Our partnership throughout the years with both MCR and DEGA has truly shown that "if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together." 

Volunteer of the Year awards will be presented to both Steve Cernak, formerly of General Motors Legal Counsel, and Jeff Forrester.


Cernak will be recognized for his long-term advocacy on behalf of MCR, which encouraged more corporate attorneys to volunteer and created a model legal referral program. 

“MCR has been a tremendous driver of good work for years and it is a privilege to play a small part in it,” said Cernak. “To have my efforts to assist in their good work be considered worthy of mention is quite an honor.” 

Forrester is responsible for one of MCR’s program highlights this year. He successfully re-negotiated a cell phone tower contract on behalf of SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor, allowing more unrestricted income to provide the domestic violence shelter additional financial solvency.

“When a pro bono opportunity comes along like this and you're able to do something really special where it's needed the most - you rediscover why you do what you do,” said Forrester. “It really is a better world if we all get involved and focus on doing the right things.” 

Two Outstanding Community Action awards will be presented to Focus: HOPE as well as Summer in the City. 

Focus: HOPE will be recognized for the work of their Community Safety Initiative, and for partnering with MCR and helping to engage youth in its Vacant Property Education Series. 

Summer in the City was a 2012 MCR mini-grant recipient. They used their grant funds to expand their mural painting program and urban garden program. These programs engage area youth in positive activities and helps improve the appearance of the neighborhood and the quality of life of its residents. 

Sponsors of Michigan Community Resources 14th Annual Event are Michigan State Housing Development Authority, MASCO Corporation Foundation, Ford Building, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Ford Motor Company, Bank of America, and Comerica Bank.