Look Who's Cookin' Too!

by Rosemarie Paine

John Kennedy has a title to defend.  While most know our president as a skilled advocate for his clients, those in attendance last year at CTLA’s hugely successful give-back-to-the community fundraiser  Look Who’s Cookin’ know John as the current holder of the “Top Drawer” award, an honor he secured by receiving the highest bid for his “Rum Cake Supreme.”  Last May, John joined 80 other male trial lawyers turned bakers to help raise money for Connecticut’s Habitat for Humanity affiliates.  Tasty, well-attended and entertaining,  Look Who’s Cookin’ gave CTLA members an opportunity to pool our baking and entertaining talents to raise money for local community organizations.   CTLA donated the net proceeds from Look Who’s Cookin’ (over $41,000!) to Habitat for Humanity to help build affordable and safe housing.

This year, CTLA presents Look Who’s Cookin’ Too! on May 17 at the Grassy Hill Country Club in Orange, again fundraising for Habitat for Humanity.  Like its predecessor, Look Who’s Cookin’ Too! will be a silent auction of baked or cooked items prepared by some of Connecticut’s talented male trial lawyers.  The silent auction of baked goods takes place in a cocktail party setting, with our chefs encouraging event guests to sample their items and bid.  Each prepares a savory dish or a dessert.  Attendees can sample the dishes and bid to take them home.  Various “special” awards are given for: Most Delicious, Most Creative, Fan Favorite, and Top Drawer (highest bid).  Event admission is a charitable donation of $50.00 per person (which includes an open bar, coffee, and samples of the cooked items up for auction).   In addition to our roster of amateur chefs, several restaurants from around the state have volunteered their professional chefs to provide tasty treats.

Look Who’s Cookin’ and Look Who’s Cookin’ Too! reflect CTLA’s focus on community outreach and charitable contributions.  Each year, CTLA will focus on a charity of the President’s choice and endeavor to fundraise for that charity, as well as do volunteer work. For the past two years, past President Dave Cooney and current President John Kennedy have chosen Habitat for Humanity. When asked to comment about the event and his choice of Habitat, John explained, “Habitat does fantastic work and the proceeds serve to help those in need. At the same time the event is a great time with good food and company. I hope as many trial lawyers, and their friends and family, as possible turn out. Last year’s event was success and the goal is to build on that this year.”

Habitat certainly is a worthy choice to receive CTLA’s charitable contributions and volunteer efforts.  Habitat local affiliates are nonprofit organizations dedicated to the elimination of poverty housing through the creation of homeownership opportunities for low-income working families. Local Habitat affiliates build and rehabilitate homes in their geographic area with the goal of creating safe, decent, affordable houses that add to the revitalization of neighborhoods.  Families that apply for homes complete a qualification process in which they demonstrate family and fiscal responsibility, and also contribute their own volunteer hours, “sweat equity.”  There are seven affiliates located across the state:  Bridgeport, Danbury, Hartford, Middlesex County, New Haven, New London, and Waterbury.  While many people assume that Habitat for Humanity (the national organization) provides funding for the local affiliates, this is not the case. Not only are the local affiliates responsible for raising funds for their own operating expenses, but they are also responsible for contributing a portion of what they raise to the national organization.

CTLA’s members have historically done many good works, though mostly through individual attorneys’ and firm efforts.  A formal effort to organize CTLA members began with Bert Polito in 2009.  His Doing Well By Doing Good campaign encouraged CTLA members throughout the State to identify and participate in service projects. In Bert’s words:

[c]ommunity service has and should always be part of the fabric of what we do at CTLA. When we reach out to others in need we are leading by example….CTLA needs to be reminded that competent lawyers who do good work are the best vehicles to attract new members. Good lawyers, like good judges and teachers, lead by example. Quality of character and love of one’s work are infectious qualities. 

Dave Cooney, CTLA’s immediate past president, continued Bert’s initiative, and Look Who’s Cookin’ was the result.  In addition to Look Who’s Cookin’ Too! CTLA is also organizing work parties to volunteer at every Habitiat affiliate worksite over the spring/summer.  

Look Who’s Cookin’ was an enormous success, and Look Who’s Cookin’ Too! promises to be even bigger and better.  Several of our own chefs have arranged for special auction packages.  In addition to baked or cooked items, a package might include theater tickets, sporting tickets or a vacation home for a week.  Please join us.

Register online at http://www.cttriallawyers.org/events/event.cfm?EventID=2127

Thursday, May 17, 2012
5:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M.
Grassy Hill Country Club
441 Clark Lane, Orange, CT