Windermere resident, lawyer appointed to board for Florida's Children First
WINDERMERE Husband, father, lawyer, child injury-prevention advocate.
Windermere resident Richard B. Schwamm plays all of those roles, but his newest includes being appointed to the board of directors for Florida’s Children First.
PUTTING CHILDREN FIRST
FCF was founded in 2001 by child advocates, volunteers and attorneys from across the state committed to working on issues affecting Florida’s most vulnerable children. It seeks to improve the government and private systems that exist to serve children through executive-branch advocacy; legal and legislative advocacy; procedural-rule advocacy; support for former foster youth; and training and support of attorneys.
“We are honored to have Richard join our board of directors with his many years of dealing with children’s cases and his passionate support of the work we do to advocate for Florida’s youth,” said FCF Executive Director Christina Spudeas.
Schwamm is a shareholder with Haliczer Pettis & Schwamm and leads the firm’s Orlando office. He is an experienced trial attorney of 27 years who focuses his practice in the areas of medical malpractice, catastrophic brain injury, personal injury, premises liability, wrongful death and complex corporate litigation.
But he also specializes in representing families and catastrophic injury cases affecting children. After working these cases and having two daughters of his own, he realized his passion lies in protecting children from injury and abuse. That’s where his involvement with nonprofit organizations such as the Children’s Safety Village of Central Florida and Safe Kids Worldwide began.
“When you’re focused on being a lawyer, litigation and advocacy, you start to develop some skills that you think to yourself, ‘Where could I best use these?’” he said. “I decided to help kids.”
He started by volunteering for CSVSF, which helps at-risk youth in the Central Florida area by providing education and advocacy to the public with the goal of helping prevent injuries to children. Since then, he continues to sit on its board, as well.
“It’s everything from drowning prevention to car-accident and car-seat issues, as well as hyperthermia awareness,” Schwamm said. “We do a lot of work locally and statewide advocating on these issues. (Then) I became a spokesperson for Safe Kids Worldwide on some of the same issues, and when I got approached to sit on the board for Florida’s Children First, it seemed like a natural expansion (of my volunteering). A lot of the work I do involves helping children and families when there’s a serious situation.”
MAKING VOICES HEARD
Such issues Schwamm has experience in dealing with include: drowning prevention; hyperthermia awareness; physical and sexual abuse of foster children; representing parents of children with brain damage caused by either accident or injury during labor and delivery; day-care accidents; and bullying and cyber bullying.
“As you look at the surrounding world and see opportunities to help keep kids safe, I think FCF is probably the best organization statewide where I think I can help other kids,” Schwamm said. “This is really a platform, a statewide presence … that’s really taking on these issues. (I’ve been) helping at-risk and abused youth, and I feel really honored to be asked to join the board.”
In his role on the board, Schwamm will assist with strategic planning and identifying goals and topical issues pertinent to child injury-prevention advocacy within the local and state government. He will assist with legislative agendas and hopes to find ways to integrate other local nonprofits that are also there to assist in prevention of abuse or injuries.
“All of us need to find our passion in life,” he said. “We need to find what issues appeal to our social conscience and how we want to spend our busy lives. ... I love my kids, and I love being a lawyer. I have found ways to blend these passions to teach my children that my most important responsibility in life is to keep them safe. Period. I now carry that philosophy into helping children in our community stay safe, as well.
“If my ability to educate and advocate is able to help just one child or give comfort and justice to a family, then I have truly given back and helped my community,” he said. “Because of my role as a lawyer on child-injury cases, I think it definitely creates a niche within the board.”