Can you believe it, we are in July and 2021 is already more than halfway over!
This month’s message is a little divergent from my regular chair’s messages, but I ask for a little indulgence for it.
I started practicing in 2003. In 2005, I had a client come into our firm by the name of Gloria Grant. At that time, Ms. Grant was 80 years old and just starting a new business venture. My partner and I had just gone out on our own and we needed every client that came into our door. To say Ms. Grant was the most impressive woman I have ever met is an understatement and I was hopeful that because we had an instant rapport that Ms. Grant and her businesses would be long-term clients.
Ms. Grant received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Industrial Technology from National University and worked from 1965 to 1985 as a Technical Engineer at the Navy Ocean Center. When she was young, Ms. Grant was one of the first African American models who did professional modeling for Clairol, Saks Fifth Avenue, Walker Scott, JCPenney, Sears, and Jet Magazine, television, and for Navy brochures. Her modeling in stores led her to become a store detective for J.L Hudson Department Store in Detroit and eventually after she moved to San Diego, Ms. Grant opened and owned the first female, black owned private investigation firm.
Although impressive in her work, Ms. Grant’s passion was helping people, any person in any way. Ms. Grant served as an active member of her community as a teacher and producer of various pageants, fashion shows and plays. She has also lectured in many of the public schools and with senior citizen classes. She served as a member of the government’s Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Equal Opportunity Board, and board member of the Citizens Council at the Educational Cultural Complex, San Diego Community College District. Additionally she served as a Research Assistant at the University of San Diego, where she was responsible for recruiting caregivers for Alzheimer’s research, and since 1998 she assisted the Somalian community in San Diego as Coordinator of the Somali Youth & Education Center and assistant manager at the Aswan African Cafe and Factory. Ms. Grant loved church and God and took so many active positions in her church through the years that she received Bethel AME’s Women Of the Year award in 2001. On July 16, 2001, by the resolution of the City Council City of San Diego presented by Deputy Mayor George Stevens, “Gloria Grant Day” was proclaimed in the City of San Diego. Her efforts since 2007 have been devoted to her church and her new charity, Hand In Hand Mission Outreach.
Although I was right that Ms. Grant and her business ventures would be long-term clients for myself and my firm, that first business venture was the only time I could in good conscience ever charge Ms. Grant and I charged her 2 hours for 8 hours of work. Over the years, Gloria and I kept in close touch and I assisted her in a variety of matters, all of them always to support charity or churches so my time always became contribution to her causes.
Last February 2020, at the age of 93 and despite me warning of Covid, Ms. Grant celebrated her life and birthday by jumping out of plane and skydiving while strapped to an American soldier. In April of this year Gloria and I started a new project, however, last week I was called by Gloria as she had a stroke and was not going to survive. She was still amazingly clear and eloquent as always when I went to see her. She of course had all sorts of directions for me on behalf of her charities and beneficiaries. A few hours after saying goodbye, Ms. Gloria Grant passed away peacefully having made sure everyone was taken care of as best she could.
For the practicing attorney, we are taught to grind, make money for our families and our firms and cultivate our clients and practice. While I try and be involved in my legal community and in my own back yard community, I would not have done near the amount of pro bono/charitable work over these last 16 years if it were not for Gloria. Those projects and hours I spent and spend doing work for Gloria and her charities are truly some of the most rewarding hours I have spent as a practicing attorney.
Sometimes a client comes into your firm and leaves a friend, mentor and motivator. Gloria was all of those to me. Although Gloria is gone, I have work to keep me busy for a time per her directions. After that, I am going to have to most likely look to myself to keep up “Gloria’s work”. For those of you who may feel like running your practice is an endless grind, keep an eye out for your Gloria who may walk through your firm’s door. If you don’t have a Gloria walking into your firm, find your passion and there is sure to be a charity who could use your talent and expertise. There is so much need these days it’s an easy search. I promise you it will be the best hours of work you perform and it will make the remainder of our quickly fleeting 2021 that much more rewarding.
Finally, don’t forget, its Summer…get out there and have some fun! You deserve it!
Sabrina L. Green, Esq.
CLA SSF Section Chair