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In The News
Faces: Keeping families togetherPublished: Sunday, February 15, 2009
Society often recognizes people who volunteer at a soup kitchen or organize a charity event, but the more unconventional methods of community service might often go unnoticed.
In this not-so-ordinary case it is the efforts of local attorneys to uphold the purpose of the Juvenile Court system — to protect children and reunite families. These are lawyers who volunteer to take on cases in their spare time, without compensation.
Maria Etzrodt Gibbons, solicitor for the Office of Children and Youth, said there are several members of the Montgomery County Bar Association who volunteer on occasion to handle dependency matters in Juvenile Court, representing parents who often might have mental health issues, addictions or other issues that may make them difficult clients, unsympathetic to many.
But in Norristown there are a couple of lawyers who, in the past three years, have stepped up to the plate and volunteered over and over again without complaint, she said.
One of them has practiced law in Norristown since the mid-1970s and was actually the first lawyer to sign up for these volunteer cases. And one believes in using her expertise to give back to the community in which she was raised and still lives. They are William H. Pugh of Erdenheim and Colleen Consolo of Norristown.
Consolo, a 1987 Norristown Area High School graduate, explained that dependency matters are the cases when parents face losing their children to the court system because they were reported, for child abuse or neglect, or maybe their child is uncontrollable.
"If (parents) can avoid court, great, maybe (they) can work out parenting classes," Consolo said. "But in more extreme matters, like a child is born with drugs in his system, for example, (case workers) take the child away first and then figure out what they can do to reunite the family. That’s court’s goal, to get the family back together."Read more at the TimesHerald.com article