“Wait until next year!”

Every Sox fan knows this all too familiar refrain – “wait until next year.” That’s what the fans of those lovable (formerly) losers always said.  Through long, cold and dark winters, we would wait with painful anticipation for our boys of spring to take to the field, once again trying to deliver on their promise of success, championships and glory.

After months of our on-going and intense efforts to procure funding through modest increases in court fees, which would have provided stability and sustainability to RICLAPP, I find myself in the all too familiar position of saying, “wait until next year.”

Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a great many virtues – however, patience isn’t one of them. So I don’t think I will wait until next year. Now is the time to begin building on what we did last legislative session.  And we did a lot. We found out who our friends are, who may not be so friendly, who we can count on and who we can’t, and – always gratifying to me – the size of our “footprint” and the great reputation that RICLAPP has in all the branches of the state government and throughout the community as a whole.

This last part is especially gratifying to me because I’m too busy trying position RICLAPP to service as many clients as effectively as we can to look up and worry about our reputation.  I assumed that doing a good job was its own reward and our reputation would take care of itself. I’m glad it has.

We’ve learned a lot in these past months and we intend to put those lessons to good use. And after a brief breather we will be back at it. One of the lessons learned is that while those who know us like us, not as many people as we hoped – particularly in the legislature – know us at all.  That is one of my tasks going forward – to increase awareness of poverty in Rhode Island, the need of small start-up entrepreneurs for legal services, and the benefits of collaboration with community partners.  I will use these pages, along with other outlets, to raise awareness of these and other issues, and how RICLAPP can assist in helping those most in need.  I hope you’ll visit and participate in the on-going discussions on these pages.

But that’s for another day. For today, let me thank all those who submitted letters, emails, made phone calls and visits to our state legislators on RIClAPP’s behalf.  Whatever success we had this year is due to your efforts.  To my RICLAPP colleagues I cannot say how much I appreciate what they did while still working to serve those in need. It was truly a spectacular effort on their parts.

Securing RICLAPP’s future is vital but only as it addresses the needs of the underserved and contributes to making Rhode Island a better place for all of us to live in. Without that linkage between RICLAPP and a community benefit, any effort to secure funds for RICLAPP becomes nothing more than a desperate attempt at bureaucratic survival, where the sole purpose is the enrichment of the organization for its own sake. I will not do that – if we ever become that kind of agency, I’ll shut the thing down myself. I have never been a fan of the Iron Law of Oligarchy.

But for now, let me again thank you all for all your friendship, your efforts on our behalf, and my hope that you’ll join us in the next phase of our efforts to serve more Rhode Islanders.

Geoff Schoos

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