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

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

For some parents and families, the transition has been relatively smooth. Others were not so lucky.

Bamberg Legal LLC has stepped up its efforts to help the less fortunate during these difficult times.

“At-risk youth are not always the students who struggle to learn in the classroom, but also struggle with the lack of self-confidence to apply what they have learned,” said Representative Justin Bamberg, lawyer.

“The virtual school left more children home alone while parents had to work,” Bamberg said. “It was a huge disadvantage for the kids who needed face-to-face instruction or who struggled with their 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 use of the Internet,” said Darlene Smith, director of the Bamberg Legal Office. “Even though some schools offered Chromebooks with an Internet connection, they still had 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.

Youth at risk were also disadvantaged because they did not have peers to socialize with, Bamberg said.

“The pandemic has left young people with no sporting events to look forward to or even graduate. I think some young people felt 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 organized 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 have also sponsored and participated in other community outreach events and projects,” Bamberg said. “Our community outreach service has helped with several food drives to ensure disadvantaged youth don’t go hungry during the pandemic.”

Community outreach director Trena Crosby, who oversees Bamberg County, said Bamberg Legal served as a “go-between” 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 concrete relationships with the students,” she said. “I like to talk to people.

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

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“A lot of kids don’t have that one-on-one communication with their parents and they feel safe with me,” Crosby said. “They felt safe. I let them know that even though we were in this pandemic we are going to get out of it, we are going to stay there 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 for the community,” Hallmon said. “We try to encourage our young people to let them know that we care about us.”

Hallmon says Bamberg Legal has always aimed to help the community.

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

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

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

“It’s not just about giving, giving, giving, it’s about doing your service, giving your knowledge, giving your time,” said Crosby. “I called a lot of people during the pandemic because I didn’t want them to stay home and be depressed. They don’t drive and 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 determined to make people happy.

Hollman congratulated Justin Bamberg on setting up the Community Outreach Department.

“It allows us to go out into the community and let them know that we are there for you,” he said.

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