SC lawyer goes extra mile to help those facing poverty during holidays

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Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 8:11 PM EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Families Helping Families was a huge success this year with close to 4000 families adopted.

But for one lawyer who made a donation, helping the poor is a year-round mission.

In fact, in her 30 years of fighting for marginalized and forgotten South Carolinians, attorney and advocate Susan Berkowitz has just one regret.

“The only thing I’m sad about… is that it has always been my hope to work myself out of a job, and unfortunately I think we are needed now, more than ever.”

As head of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center in Columbia, Berkowitz has spent decades helping the poor and disadvantaged find their footing in the maze of bureaucracy and red tape that is too often found in state agencies and assistance programs.

She and her staff at the Justice Center go the extra mile this time of year, by donating to Families Helping Families.

“Sometimes what we work on can take 10 - 12 years before we actually see it come to fruition. We need to feel that we can help someone today as well.

So what we try to do is adopt a family of 4 or 5 or 6 each year because then we can all pool together and really make a special holiday for that family.”

Berkowitz says the team effort and the spirit of giving go hand in hand with their mission of serving the poor and underserved.

“Nothing feels better than when we can start having piles of presents in this conference room. And the best thing that can happen is we need more than one car to take them.”

Seeking justice and extending kindness is a personal mission for Berkowitz as well.

“For me, some of it comes from my faith. I was raised and practice Judaism. And there is a tenant in Judaism. “Te Kana Lom”: You should make the world a better place every day when you go to bed than when you woke up.”

She ‘walks the talk’, with that one regret:

That there are still so many needs and so many more to help.

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