California Lawyers Association, Environmental Law

Look for the Helpers

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image of Jennifer Novak wearing a mask

Jennifer Novak, an environmental lawyer in Rancho Palos Verdes, had been missing the fellowship of her regular volunteer work, which was shut down during the shelter in place. So when she saw a Facebook post from a friend about helping with food delivery during the pandemic, she jumped on the opportunity.

She went to her local YMCA, which is accepting the industrial-sized deliveries of food that would otherwise be going to the public schools. Masked up and practicing social distancing with the other volunteers, she helped package meals for distribution to families in need. The nonprofit is handing out between 700 to 1,000 meals twice a week.

“There’s something nice about getting out into the community and having more of an impact face-to-face and in the moment,” said Novak, chair of the CLA’s Environmental Law Section. “I came home and told my husband, I’m not going to complain anytime soon.” She resolved to return with her daughter, who will soon turn 18.

Even as many of us worry about our own health and the health of our businesses, we’re heartened by stories of people helping out their communities. 

Michael Andrew Iseri of Orange County is using his knowledge of tech law, disability rights and software engineering to help virtually connect people with homeless and other natural disaster resources.  

SCUG® – Homeless and Natural Disaster Resources lists local resources on an easy-to-read map with contact information. The app lists more than a thousand resources throughout California for homeless, veterans, youth, single parents, victims of domestic violence, COVID-19 and more. 

The app among several he developed to make law accessible. Others can be used to customize advanced health care directives and statutory wills, read the Constitution in multiple languages, and help people navigate small-claims court.

If you or someone you know is doing something to help their local community in these uncertain times, we’d love to hear about it. Please reach out to Jennifer Navarro at

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