Bay Area Legal Services Endowments

First endowment established in 1993

Bay Area Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm of skilled, professional attorneys whose objective since 1967 has been to help the most vulnerable members of our community. We offer a full range of free civil legal help with offices, on-site legal clinics and partnerships in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Manatee and Sarasota counties as well as two statewide legal helplines for seniors and veterans.

We protect the legal rights of children in foster care, give veterans access to mental and physical health benefits, protect seniors from scam artists and abusive family members, ensure domestic violence survivors have the legal protections they need, and much more. Our clients do not have the means to hire private attorneys. Please visit us at

Contribute to any of five Bay Area Legal Services endowments at Community Foundation Tampa Bay:

Don M. Stichter Endowment (Preserve Housing for Seniors)
To honor the philanthropic legacy of legal legend, Don Stichter, Bay Area Legal Services established its newest endowment — The Don M. Stichter Endowment, held at the Community Foundation Tampa Bay.
In November 2019, close family and friends of the late Don Stichter came together to help fund this endowment in Don’s memory. This endowment supports the Don M. Stichter Fellow, a position that preserves homeownership for low-income seniors. These seniors face major legal issues, such as foreclosure, unclear home title, construction fraud, and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Wm. Reece Smith Endowment (General Program Support)
Named after the late William Reece Smith Jr., a Tampa native, who in his lifetime served as Interim President of the University of South Florida in Tampa, and President of the American Bar Association. This endowment provides general fund to support our mission of providing free civil legal services to low-income Tampa Bay area residents.

L. David Shear Endowment (Support Children in Foster Care)
This endowment supports the L. David Shear Endowment Children’s Law Center of Bay Area Legal Services. The Children’s Law Center provides high-quality, holistic, client-directed legal representation to children who have been abused, neglected, and/or abandoned in the overburdened child welfare system. This funding supports the attorneys and social workers who work in partnership on each child’s case.

Judge Robert J. Simms Endowment (General Program Support)
To honor Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Robert J. Simms’ legacy, Bay Area Legal Services established the Judge Robert J. Simms Endowment. This endowment provides general fund to support our mission of providing free civil legal services to low-income Tampa Bay area residents.

Major General Ernest A. and Marilyn Bedke Veterans Endowment
In 2018, the Major General Ernest A. and Marilyn Bedke Veterans Law Center was established to provide legal representation to Florida’s veterans. The Major General Ernest A. and Marilyn Bedke Veterans Team Law Center seeks to:
• Expand the Veterans Initiative Team Medical Legal Partnership for improved outreach to veterans within our five-county service area.
• Set the standard for innovation, delivering compassionate legal services through breakthrough projects such as our new statewide Florida Veterans Legal Helpline.
• Ensure access to justice for all Florida veterans in need of legal support – whether through self-help resources, on-site advice, the Florida Veterans Legal Helpline, or individual representation.

Make your tax-deductible donation safely and securely using the form below. You can choose to make a one-time or recurring contribution via credit card or ACH/Direct Debit. A credit card processing fee of 2.798% + $0.26 will be deducted from all gifts made by credit card. ACH/Direct Debit gifts will not incur any fees. Minimum online donation is $25.

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