LAST WEDNESDAY, April 20, D.C.’s finest gathered at the residence of the Japanese ambassador for the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project’s (DCVLP) annual Voices Against Violence fundraiser. The event honored DCVLP’s volunteer lawyers, who work with the organization to provide legal aid to domestic violence victims and at-risk children.
The highlight of the evening was keynote speaker, First Lady Michelle Obama. Addressing a sold-out room, Obama expressed her enthusiastic support of DCVLP’s mission and their hardworking volunteers.
“You give women and families a reason to hope again, and that’s worth celebrating,” she said.
The First Lady, who spoke with her trademark warmth and humor, recognized the important work of volunteers and the many ways they could impact people’s lives.
“In a very real sense you’re acting as these people’s voices,” she said. And whether you’re arguing in front of a judge, or counseling a survivor, whether you’re helping a mother retain custody of her children, or coming to events like this one…you all are making a real concrete difference in people’s lives.”
She also described the immense satisfaction she found working for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau as a law student, calling her time there ”one of the single most rewarding and inspiration professional experiences I’ve had.”
Other highlights included a silent auction featuring items from designer bags to a much-coveted ticket to Broadway hit “Hamilton,” and a performance by the Georgetown University’s A Capella group, Superfood. The group opened the speaking program with a performance of “Till it Happens to You,” an Oscar nominated song by Lady Gaga that is a moving tribute to survivors of sexual assault. (Gaga recently performed the song at the Oscars, where she was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden, a leader in domestic violence advocacy and the father-in-law of DCVLP Vice President Kathleen Biden.)
DCVLP co-executive directors and co-founders Jenny Brody and Karen Barker Marcou also spoke, praising the work of the more than 1,600 volunteers who have donated over 14,500 hours this year alone, and highlighting their impact on the lives of families with a video of testimonials by clients and volunteers.
Carrie Bettinger-Lopez, the newly appointed White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, spoke earlier in the evening at the VIP reception about both the progress made by organizations like DCVLP, as well as further steps that need to be taken to support a “cultural shift” to end violence against women. She included a shoutout to volunteers, calling their work “nothing short of miraculous.”
— Emily Harburg
Emily Harburg, MyLittleBird’s new intern, is a sophomore at Yale University. She was an intern at DCVLP last summer.