FAIRFIELD — Hamilton attorney Stephen Bernat is the 2012 Janet Clemmons Community Service Award winner.
Bernat, a resident of Liberty Twp., was recognized Saturday night at the 16th annual Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families (SELF) dinner and auction at Receptions Banquet and Conference Center.
Bernat, an attorney with McCaslin, Imbus & McCaslin who has practiced in Hamilton since 2002, was recognized for his service to the Volunteer Lawyers Project of the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio.
“I’ve been practicing law since 1998, and the Supreme Court tells you to give back, and this is my way to give back,” said Bernat, a graduate of Ohio University and the Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University.
The Volunteer Lawyers Project serves low-income residents in seven counties in Southwest Ohio, including Butler County. Since 2007, Bernat has provided legal assistance at no charge to 41 individuals and families and has helped with a wide variety of issues, including auto accident suits, consumer suits, guardianships and estates. His work has provided essential legal services to many residents of Butler County in situations in which they otherwise would not have received legal help.
“I’m really the least deserving of all the people who were nominated tonight,” Bernat said. “But it means a lot to these people and I am lucky in my practice that I have enough time to do the pro bono work. I try to treat all the volunteer cases as good or better than the ones that pay because these people do need the help.”
The other nominees were Celeste Didlick-Davis, chief executive officer of 3R Development in Middletown; Dr. Lester Dornon, a Middletown physician who volunteers at Hope House between overseas missions trips.
Nicky McCullough, volunteer activities director with Field of Hope in Hamilton was also nominated, along with James Ramsey and William Sedwick, Proctor & Gamble retirees working with People Working Cooperatively and SELF’s Group Work-camps initiative.
Didlick-Davis received the Resilient Courage Award, while Dornon received the Humanitarian Award. McCullough was honored with the Children’s Champion Award, and Ramsey and Sedwick were recognized with the Building Hope Award.
SELF also honored the city of Middletown as its Outstanding Partner of the Year for collaboration on the Group Workcamps home repair project in 2011, and Faith Community United Methodist Church in West Chester Twp. was recognized as the Agency Angel.
Three clients were also honored for their success; Lauri Fueston, Helen George and Jonathan Spindler. SELF employees Kim Patterson and Maria Sexton were recognized for extraordinary efforts in 2011.
Contact this reporter at (513) 705-2852, or Skip.Weaver@coxinc.com.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.