Estefani Rodriguez and Peter Garcia, board members of the Dominican Bar Association, often spoke to each other about life, family, personal and professional goals or what took place on a given day.
Before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, they wanted to work on a project that would provide a meaningful and positive impact in their communities. After seeing and experiencing the devastating impact caused by COVID-19, they regrouped and realized that the time to spring into action was now.
“As attorneys, we should strategize and collaborate with leadership in the legal profession to find ways to support minority-owned businesses by purchasing meals to donate to front line workers,” the duo said.
What originally started with a handful of affinity bar associations, quickly expanded to 20 organizations representing lawyers, judges, legal professionals and law students in the tri-state area.
These partnering organizations collectively referred to themselves as the Coalition. While Rodriguez and Garcia knew or worked with some of these people, the majority had not prior to this initiative. Despite that, the Coalition enthusiastically embraced this idea and demonstrated their confidence in them as each partnering organization committed funds for meal purchasing.
“We were beyond excited when we reached $10,000 in commitments in a matter of days,” Rodriguez and Garcia said.
While the Coalition committed $10,000, Rodriguez and Garcia needed assistance to manage the logistics. Specifically, they were tasked with contacting all 10 minority-owned restaurants, placing the food orders for hundreds of heroes, coordinating delivery with nine hospitals and facilitating the payments from the 20 organizations to each restaurant. Fortunately, they received additional support from their friend, Jasmine Bueno and Garcia’s wife, Stephanie Robayo.
This effort was the result of leadership in the legal profession coming together to support the local community during this difficult time.
“This was no easy feat, but it was worth it and felt quite rewarding,” they said.
This money helped provide almost 1,100 meals for front line workers at nine hospitals and paramedics at one facility. Most of the deliveries were distributed for lunch on April 29. Since promoting this effort on social media, Rodriguez and Garcia received interest from other organizations that wished to contribute to this effort.
“We received over $3,000 in additional commitments and we hope to leverage this effort to assist other organizations to continue what we accomplished,” Rodriguez and Garcia said.
Rodriguez and Garcia have always appreciated being involved with their communities; from being an informal or formal mentor to providing engaging discussions that educate and empower the attendees. They serve in varying leadership roles for several organizations. Rodriguez serves as a committee member for the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA,) Young Lawyers Division for Region II (New York region.) Garcia is the chief of staff for Anta Cisse-Green, president-elect of the MBBA, treasurer for HNBA Young Lawyers Division and committee member for the Task Force on Puerto Rico (New York City Bar Association.)