UNSUNG HEROES: Law firm reaches out to at-risk youth and community throughout pandemic | Local


As the coronavirus pandemic tightened its grip on the region, students and parents had to adapt to the shift from in-person to virtual learning.

For some parents and families, the transition was relatively smooth. Others weren’t so lucky.

The law firm Bamberg Legal LLC has stepped up its efforts to help those less fortunate in these difficult times.

“At-risk youth aren’t always the students who struggle to learn in the classroom, but also struggle with a lack of confidence to apply what they’ve learned,” said Rep. Justin Bamberg, attorney.

“Virtual school left kids home alone more while parents had to work,” Bamberg said. “It was a huge disadvantage for children who needed face-to-face instruction or had difficulty with homework.”

In addition to the lack of individual attention, the lack of internet access was also a challenge for some young people.

“The pandemic has made it very difficult to find locations that offer public internet use,” said Darlene Smith, head of Bamberg’s legal office. “Even though some schools were offering Chromebooks with an internet connection, they were still having connectivity issues in some places.”

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While Smith and Bamberg agree that social distancing was the right answer to help control the pandemic, there have been negative consequences.

At-risk youth were also disadvantaged because they had no peers to socialize with, Bamberg said.

“The pandemic has left young people with no sporting events to look forward to or even a diploma. I think some young people felt like there was not much to look forward to,” he said.

As part of its efforts to help at-risk youth, Bamberg Legal’s Community Outreach Division has hosted several back-to-school parties. He distributed school supplies to help with virtual and face-to-face learning.

Another outreach effort was a Kickin’ it with Cops event, an effort to bridge the gap between police and youth.

“We also sponsored and participated in community outreach events and projects,” Bamberg said. “Our community outreach service helped with several food drives to ensure disadvantaged youth would not go hungry during the pandemic.”

Community Outreach Director Trena Crosby, who oversees Bamberg County, said Bamberg Legal has served as a “middleman” to connect students with their teachers and administrators during the pandemic.

Crosby said she missed going to schools during the pandemic for various career events, but managed to visit schools on a limited basis during the pandemic.

“I had direct relationships with the students,” she said. “I like talking with people.”

Crosby said students who worked in person were always happy to see her.

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“A lot of times a lot of kids don’t have that one-to-one communication with their parents and they felt safe with me,” Crosby said. “They felt safe. I let them know that even though we were in this pandemic, we were going to get through it, we were going to stay in it and fight together to get out of it and that’s what happened.

Anthony Hallmon, deputy director of Bamberg Legal Community Outreach, which oversees Orangeburg County, said Bamberg Legal is more than just a law firm.

“We love and care about the community,” Hallmon said. “We try to encourage our young people to let them know that we care.”

Hallmon says Bamberg Legal has always been about helping the community.

But Bamberg Legal has gone beyond serving young people during the pandemic.

“We really did everything we could during the pandemic to help not just students, but everyone,” Crosby said. “I came out personally. I mowed the lawns of some elderly people. I made sure that their accommodation was nice and well maintained.

Crosby said she also makes sure seniors have groceries and medications.

“It’s not just about giving, giving, giving, but giving your service, giving your knowledge, giving your time,” Crosby said. “I called a lot of people during the pandemic because I didn’t want them to sit at home and be depressed. They don’t drive and they don’t work. Most of them live alone.

“It made them so happy,” Crosby said. “At Bamberg Legal, we are community oriented. We are family based. We love people. Our hearts and minds are set on pleasing people.

Hollman praised Justin Bamberg for setting up the community outreach service.

“It allows us to get out into the community and let them know we’re here for you,” he said.


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