By Brooke Kibrick, Executive Director
Bairs Foundation is the only foundation of its kind in the country – but we don’t want to be the best kept secret – we want this nonprofit model to be replicated all across the country. We are committed to supporting the civil justice space, and we rely on contributions from trial lawyers and other civil justice advocates to continue to help plaintiffs cover their basic needs while they seek justice after their tragedy.
When I took the job as Executive Director of Bairs Foundation, it was an easy decision for a few reasons. One was the chance to be able to work for such a distinctive nonprofit that helps those in need who are in such a vulnerable place in their lives. These families have experienced a catastrophic accident themselves or to one of their loved ones, and they are now facing financial challenges, often as a result of the accident. Another reason was the unique opportunity to be directly involved with not only helping to raise funds for the organization – but to also have an integral part in working directly with the individuals who need our help on a daily basis.
In my first few months at Bairs, I have had a crash course in our legal system. Learning the language and processes of the civil justice world has been challenging, but also extremely interesting! I have learned to take my time with each case and ask the right questions of plaintiffs and attorneys in order to gain a better understanding of the details of a lawsuit. I also have multiple conversations with each individual to learn more about their lives and their goals, so I can truly see the full situation of each plaintiff.
If you had to choose, could you? This is the question that I have been thinking about daily recently. Since August, I have spoken with countless people in situations where they have to make the decision between putting dinner on the table that night, putting gas in the car so they can get to work in the morning, or buying medication their child needs to get better. And to be honest, I am not sure what I would choose if I had no access to money or someone to help me make ends meet during a difficult time.
The few cases that have stuck out to me the most have been the 20+ cases of women who have been impacted by the Essure birth control implant. This medical device has caused serious health complications for women all over the country. To hear about the pain, the surgeries, and the loss of pregnancies has very much impacted me as a woman and as a mother. But to have the ability to help these women who have been through so much makes me feel grateful that an organization like the Bairs Foundation exists.
Impact of a donation
We have launched our 2020-2021 Annual Giving Campaign, reaching out to the entire civil justice community to help us change the landscape of the pre-settlement funding industry. When I was designing this campaign, I put myself in the shoes of the men and women I talk to every day; they are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, caretakers who just trying to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
The smallest amount anyone gives to this campaign will have a more profound impact in the years to come. Once we help one person, those funds will continue to renew, grow, and help more people over and over again. How? Well, when a plaintiff finally receives his or her settlement and they pay us back for the advance plus the low interest that has accrued, that money returns to the pool of funding and becomes available for the next family – or ten.
This year has been so challenging for all of us. It has been a year of lots of immediate family time, navigating working and learning from home, and distance from loved ones to keep them safe. What this pandemic has taught me is more than ever, we need to support one another. Everyone is facing different challenges these days, but our ultimate needs as humans are the same. Everyone deserves basic living conditions like housing, food, and heat. Our foundation makes that possible.