Jean Shirley Named 2018 Liberty Bell Award Recipient

Nominated by her Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society coworkers, Jean Shirley is the 2018 Liberty Bell Award honoree.

Bestowed upon a non-lawyer who, outside of his or her regular employment, selflessly promotes the values of American democracy and its rule of law, the Liberty Bell award is among the American Bar Association’s top honors.

Known for her tenacious work ethic, magnetic personality, calm-headed demeanor, and her calling to assist those less fortunate, Jean boasts a 45-year career with Hiscock Legal Aid Society as a client advocate most recently in its Parole Program. For this program, Jean screens clients who’ve violated parole supervision conditions and works to find reasonable and appropriate rehabilitation and treatment alternatives to incarceration.

Previously at Hiscock, for 30-plus years, Jean has worked in its City Court Criminal Defenders Program continuing, in 2004, with the agency’s Family Court Program. Her life’s work has been dedicated to promoting liberty, justice, and equality for all – especially those most vulnerable.

Among the HLAS programs Jean has initiated over the years is the Visit Host Program. This initiative allows for monitored visits of foster children and their parents at community locations different from the typical agency waiting room setting.

By providing clients with the interpersonal skills needed to take responsibility and feel empowered to address family, substance abuse, or mental health issues, Jean “stimulates a deeper sense of individual responsibility, so that folks understand their rights and their duties. Jean manages to do this in a non-threatening and disarming manner, creating trusting and lasting relationships that lead to personal growth,” said Linda Gehron, CEO, Hiscock Legal Aid Society. “I have seen Jean’s presence sustain our clients through very difficult and emotional litigation, making it possible for them to succeed.”

A Cazenovia resident, Jean has volunteered with a long list of area organizations, among them: The Community Resources for Independent Seniors, TimeBank Advisory Committee, and helps bring weekly dinners to the community via Friendship Inn. She also volunteers with Literacy Volunteers, Pet Visitation at St. Camillus and Loretto (for 10 years!), the Eden Alternative, From the Ground Up (an equine therapy program), the GCACC Senior Housing Study Committee, and the Riverside Drive Committee.