United Way in the Hamilton Spectator
Morris calls United Way ‘a campaign for all of us’
Bill Morris did not get heavily involved in supporting United Way over the years so that one day, he would be paid tribute by colleagues in the Hamilton legal community, in the presence of a sitting justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
But that’s what happened Tuesday in the Grand Ballroom in Hamilton’s Sheraton Hotel.
Morris received the John F. Evans Award of Community Distinction at the 11th annual Sopinka United Way Luncheon, attended by more than 160 members of the legal community.
The event is held each year to recognize achievement in supporting the Burlington and Hamilton United Way.
“Bill has had a long-standing commitment to United Way over a long period of time, quietly behind the scenes — he has always just done it because it’s the right thing to do,” said Paul Sweeny, a lawyer with Evans Sweeny Bordin, and chair of the 2012 United Way’s legal committee.
Morris was called to the bar 50 years ago. The founder of the Morris Law Group told the luncheon that it’s a challenge for United Way to raise funds because it is a general campaign, in contrast to specifically targeted efforts.
“United Way has not come close to receiving the recognition it should,” he said. “It is the most important campaign that takes place in this community. It is a campaign for all of us.”
In attendance were his sons Jason and Randy, daughter Lisa, and his wife of 51 years, Eva.
While it was the 11th edition of the luncheon, named for John Sopinka, the late Supreme Court justice who grew up in Hamilton, it was just the second year that the award of distinction been given.
But at all of the luncheons to date, the legal committee has managed to persuade a different Supreme Court justice to appear as the guest speaker.
And that, quipped Tuesday’s guest of honour, Madam Justice Marie Deschamps, is quite a feat considering judges at the Supreme Court do not participate in fundraising activities.
“But the organizers have made arguments that no one can object to,” she said. “Who can object, when it is named after John Sopinka?”
Deschamps is retiring from Canada’s top court, but will be finishing writing her final judgments until Feb. 7. She spoke about the prospects for lawyers embracing technology and social media.
Sweeny said the legal committee’s contribution to the United Way has grown dramatically since the luncheon was conceived 11 years ago by John Evans.
They have raised more than $1 million to date, he said, and more than $175,000 this year.