Attorney Bruce Strom had a successful private practice. He even argued cases for 13 years, some all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
But the more he traveled, the more he saw the plight of the poor. He also saw the diverse faces of the poor around the suburbs and wanted to do something about it.
So in 2000, he founded Administer Justice in Elgin. It started as a part-time information-only legal clinic. But it became so busy that he left the firm to turn the nonprofit into a full-time, full-service Christian organization that served the needs of the poor.
He remembers some of the first people he assisted and how they still impact him today.
One was a man who was homeless, but he didn't fit the profile of a homeless person. He had lost his job and then lost his home to foreclosure. And then there was a young woman, who grew up in a good home but she didn't like the restrictions. So she went off on her own and was abused, Strom said.
"Both of them felt so invisible and felt no one cared about them," Strom said.
He listened to them and helped them make some connections to other agencies.
"I certainly learned from them and wanted to make sure they knew people cared about them and that opportunities were available," he said.
So what started as a small office with no volunteers, Administer Justice has since grown into a full-service legal aid group with multiple offices, 12 workers and more than 700 volunteers, including about 250 attorneys, he said.
They often help with domestic issues, including divorce, guardianship, abuse, as well as foreclosure.
Strom's wife, Helen, and twin sons, Joseph and Daniel, join these volunteers in carrying out Administer Justice's mission, which helps more than 6,000 low-income clients annually in Kane and DuPage counties. They often meet at churches and other offices of organizations in Oak Brook, West Chicago, West Dundee and elsewhere, he said.
Strom said he'll leave his top spot with Administer Justice in November and attorney Eric Nelson will take over as the new executive director.
Strom, who launched a national organization called Gospel Justice Initiative earlier this year to serve the legal and spiritual needs of the poor across America, now will serve as that organization's president and CEO.
"I'm very grateful on where I'm at now," Strom said.
He believes he is now living his faith and using his skills to help others.
"Being able to serve others is a huge joy," he said. "I get to see people's lives change every day."
Elgin realtors honored
Bob Barker, Jim Nelson Jr., and Jim Nelson Sr., owners of Elgin-based Re/Max Suburban, a large independent Re/Max franchise, recently received the prestigious Re/Max Distinguished Service Award from the worldwide Re/Max organization. The honor was provided during the 2013 Re/Max convention in Las Vegas, Nev. They received the award for their pioneering spirit, vision and leadership in the industry and in the national and regional Re/Max networks.
Gingold gets top award
Don Gingold, an actor and owner of Naperville-based Sprockets Websites, garnered the Jocelyn Donkin Award last week during the Naperville Independent Film Festival. Jocelyn Donkin was the first volunteer coordinator who passed away from cancer soon after the first festival, so the founders created a volunteerism award to memorialize her.
20 years for JP Jewelers
Owner James Petterec, a certified diamontologist/gemologist and a bench repair specialist with about 45 years in the jewelry industry, opened the doors of St. Charles-based JP Jewelers in 1993. The store now marks 20 years of helping others celebrate anniversaries, engagements and other occasions. JP Jewelers will kick off a monthlong anniversary celebration starting with a ribbon cutting on Wednesday.
Holly Rinal has been promoted to executive chef for KeyLime Cove in Gurnee. She'll be responsible for the creation of new dishes, menu design, team training for KeyLime Cove's six restaurants and eateries as well as special event and banquet service. ... Greg Kechik is the new vice president of accounting and finance for Union Leasing Inc., a provider of commercial vehicle leasing and fleet management solutions in Schaumburg.
Mary Formosa, vice president of human resources for Lisle-based Navistar's Global Truck and Engine Group, Quality Procurement and Safety; Maureen O'Brien, owner of Batavia-based exterior remodeling company, O'Brien & Son Inc.; and Geneace Williams of Burr Ridge is a minister and author of "Leadership DASH: Breaking Through the Finish Line." They will be speakers at the Greater Chicago Women's Leadership Summit presented by Benedictine University at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, on the second floor of the Krasa Student Center.
Michael Small, president and CEO of Gogo in Itasca, said the company hit a milestone by installing its 2000th commercial aircraft with its in-flight connectivity solution. ... Douglas Automotive President Douglas McAllister said the company has now opened for business in its new 6,000-square-foot location at 417 W. Main St. in Barrington, formerly occupied by Reber Automotive.
Laurie Kane, owner of Lake Barrington-based Treetime Christmas Creations is partnering with Goodwill to get area resident to donate their gently used artificial Christmas trees during the month of October. In return, donors will receive 15 percent off a new Treetime artificial Christmas tree purchase, to be redeemed in local Treetime stores in Lake Barrington and Palatine. For more, visit www.treetime.com.
Steve Volkodav, CEO of the North Shore-Barrington Association of Realtors will be among the speakers at the Illinois Association of Realtors Fall Conference & Expo on Tuesday through Thursday at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. ... Elk Grove Village native Jennifer Scanlon was promoted to senior Vice president of USG Corp. and president of international. ... Greg Palese, vice president of marketing at Klein Tools in Lincolnshire was a featured speaker at the Master Electricians Australia and Electrical Contractors Association 2013 Electrical Industry Conference in Las Vegas last week.
Doctors Leslie Mattson, Laura Levin, Khin Win, Magdalena Fus, Chantale Stephens-Archer and Benjamin Heatwole have joined the DuPage Medical Group, the largest independent, multi-specialty physician group based in Downers Grove. ... Trustee Stephen Burt became the new chairman of the DuPage Community Foundation of Wheaton during its annual meeting held recently at Glen Oak Country Club in Glen Ellyn.
Matthew Rogers received a plaque honoring his tenure as a member and also chairman of CareNet Pregnancy Services of DuPage's board of directors, which he completed in December of 2012. During his board service, CareNet added a fourth counseling center in Naperville and recommitted to serving DuPage County teens through its abstinence until marriage program, Amplify Youth Development. ... William Di Santo, president of Lemont-based Englewood Construction said his restaurant group has completed Williston Brewing Co., an upscale restaurant in Williston, N.D.
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