Paralegal Sharon Lebowitz said that her former boss, Jack Zeldes, inspired her to make a difference in the world. Zeldes, a titan in Connecticut legal circles and the found of Zeldes, Needle & Cooper in Bridgeport, died in September, but Lebowitz wanted his legacy of outreach to live on.
So this month, she and other employees at the firm got involved in a Red Cross program called the Holiday Mail for Heroes. The program involves members of the public sending holiday greetings to veterans, military families and active-duty service members at hospitals and bases around the world.
According to the American Red Cross website, the cards and personal messages provide a welcome “touch of home” for the troops during the holidays.
How many cards did the law firm send out? Hard to tell.
“I did start to count,” Lebowitz said, “but once I got to 100 and still had a good deal to go, I gave up.”
She added that more than 10 staff members took part in the effort.
“I had worked for Jack [Zeldes] since I was 19 years old, and like everyone here, Jack was family to me,” Lebowitz said. “He was a great man, generous, loving, compassionate and kind. Jack made a difference in the world. The very best way I can honor his memory is by living my life the way he lived his, and by encouraging the members of the firm he loved to do the same.”
Zeldes, 83, left behind the successful firm that he founded and where practiced for 42 years, and left many admirers. Steve Ecker, of Cowdery, Ecker & Murphy, in Hartford, recently said that Zeldes treated everyone like they mattered. “And the incredible thing is that everyone did matter to Jack.”
John Krouzil, the office manager at the Zeldes firm said the staffers did more than sign and address the cards. “Everyone put in a personal note,” he said. “Some messages echoed the [holiday] sentiments of the card but mostly the messages thanked the receiver for their bravery, their sacrifice and their commitment to our country.”
Krouzil said that Lebowitz has been looking for an organization that sent Christmas cards to the troops and happened upon the Holiday Mail for Heroes campaign. “It was actually the first year the firm has been involved with the Red Cross but I believe it will be a yearly thing for us,” Krouzil said.
“The [staff members] who helped out were very happy to do so, telling stories of people they knew who served and who had been away from their families over holiday seasons,” Krouzil said. “We all believe it’s a good cause for our firm to be involved with and we all look forward to doing it again in the years to come.”
Lebowitz agreed, adding: “We had a wonderful time working together on the project, and were pleased to devote even our small efforts to such a great cause.”
Lebowitz said that she and other members of the firm have been involved in other community service projects this season. “We collected 500 pounds of food for the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association Thanksgiving Food Drive, and we donated over 100 toys to the GBBA Toys for Tots Drive,” Lebowitz said. “Currently, we are using some of our lunch hours to make fleece scarves, which we intend to donate to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission.”