A Fox Rothschild associate recently received the Pennsylvania Bar
Association’s Verdina Y. Showell Award in honor of her work with a program that provides free wills and other estate planning documents to the state’s emergency responders.
Sandra A. Romaszewski, a lawyer who works out of Fox Rothschild’s Warrington, Bucks County office, was set to receive the honor this past Saturday, Nov. 16, during an event at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 in Philadelphia, according to the PBA.
The Verdina Y. Showell Award recognizes outstanding community service and commitment to the Wills for Heroes program.
It is named after a deceased attorney with Exelon Business Services Co. who was an early proponent of the program, in which lawyers visit firehouses and meeting halls to spend time helping out first responders who don’t have wills.
Romaszewski works as a volunteer coordinator with the Wills for Heroes program in Bucks County, a county just north of Philadelphia, and helps out at additional events in other Pennsylvania counties, according to the PBA.
The attorney, who also recruits volunteers to help with events, including those from Peirce College’s paralegal program, is known for her development of a manual that aids lawyer volunteers in using the software program that formats the wills and other legal documents for the program’s participants.
“Thanks to Sandra’s commendable efforts, the Wills for Heroes program in Pennsylvania has provided peace of mind to many first responders and their families,” Robert Datorre, chair of the PBA’s Young Lawyers Division, said in a statement. “With a will and other estate planning documents in place, these first responders and their families know their wishes are known and will be followed.”
The Wills for Heroes Program was brought to Pennsylvania by Ballard Spahr attorney Daniel McKenna, according to the PBA.
McKenna serves on the board of the national Wills for Heroes Foundation, which is the nonprofit behind the program’s expansion.
In a statement, McKenna compared Romaszewski to the award’s namesake, saying the attorney places a “high priority on providing free legal services where they were needed most.
“We applaud Sandra for being a model volunteer and for helping to expand the program in Bucks County and additional Pennsylvania counties,” he said.
Despite the dangerous nature of the job, an astonishing 80 to 90 percent of emergency responders, also known as first responders, don’t have wills, according to McKenna.
Given the staggering numbers, various officials from area police, fire and emergency medical personnel organizations have requested the Wills for Heroes program be taken to their individual communities, according to the PBA.
Attorneys volunteering with the program also go over living wills with participants, helping the responders with understanding what actions should be taken in the event the person can no longer make decisions for themselves due to illness or incapacity.
Lawyers also prepare a durable power of attorney for responders at no cost.
According to an online biography, Romaszewski, who has been named one of the leading corporate attorneys in Pennsylvania by Chambers USA, focuses her practice on corporate, insurance and international matters for public and private companies.
Romaszewski previously worked as a corporate paralegal and legal secretary for DLA Piper and Reed Smith, two Philadelphia law firms.
She joined Fox Rothschild after graduating from law school.