Fayette County resident and attorney Angela Hinton Fonda was recently awarded the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service, presented by the State Bar of Georgia and the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism. She was the 6th Judicial District recipient at the 11th annual award presentation Feb. 16 at the State Bar Center in Atlanta.
“Although I am deeply humbled for being selected for the Justice Benham Award for Community Service, I regard it as an affirmation of the values of Fayette County,” Hinton Fonda said. “I was, and am, honored to have been chosen to serve with the wonderful members of the Fayette County DFCS (Dept. of Family & Children’s Services) Board. Fayette residents are kind and generous in times of trouble. I am glad to have the opportunity to contribute to our community in such meaningful ways and I am proud to call Fayette County my home.”
Hinton Fonda last week commented on her service with Fayette County DFCS and on some of the aspects of of that service that put an undeniable human face on those receiving services.
“In the course of my service on the Board, I discovered that children who were aging out of foster care were sent off to college, trade schools or independent life with their belongings in trash bags. What a humiliating message for those children. I thought about what it must be like to arrive at school alone, with no one to fret over whether your room will be comfortable or whether you have enough study snacks. The absence of a parent can be explained, but the indignity of bringing everything you own in trash bags has no easy explanation,” Hinton Fonda said. “Community leaders and churches donate backpacks and school supplies for grade school and high school students but there is, generally, no collection for students aging out of care. After getting an assessment of needs from Fayette DFCS, I got community members to buy brand new suitcases for the college students. We put a set of towels and an alarm clock with a battery backup in the bags and gave them to DFCS to pass along. The point was to give the newly-independent young people the appearance of normalcy, and a few ‘life tools,’ for this new phase of their lives. I anticipate an expanded effort in the coming months.”
Hinton Fonda was nominated by therapeutic counselor Connie Biemiller Thomas for her work on the Fayette DFCS Board and on behalf of families and children in crisis and based on a career-long history of community service and involvement in Fayette County and in Chatham County, her previous home.
In addition to her work with the Fayette DFCS board, Hinton Fonda led a Leadership Fayette project with the assistance of the Southside Chapter of the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers to collect career-appropriate clothing for women at the Promise Place domestic violence program.
“We received donations from as far away as Alpharetta and the donations included shoes, purses, and scarves, all of the ‘uniform’ elements of a successful interview candidate. It is my hope that the clothing will be a confidence booster to the recipients as they build independent lives,” Hinton Fonda said.
Since 1998, the Justice Robert Benham Awards for Community Service have been presented to honor lawyers and judges in Georgia who have made significant contributions to their communities and demonstrate the positive contributions of members of the State Bar of Georgia beyond their legal or official work.
Bar members have served a wide range of community organizations, government-sponsored activities, and humanitarian efforts. Their fields of service include: youth athletics and mentoring programs, literacy programs, social and support services, church and religious activities, politics, conservation and the environment, promotion and support for legal aid programs, community development, health, education, sports, recreation, and the arts.
The awards recognize the commitment of Georgia lawyers to volunteerism, encourage all lawyers to become involved in community service, improve the quality of lawyers’ lives through the satisfaction they derive from helping others and raise the public image of lawyers.
Hinton Fonda serves as Atlanta senior assistant city attorney and holds a J.D. from Duke University and a B.A. cum laude State University of New York at Albany.
Among her many accomplishments with the Georgia Bar Association and the American Bar Association, Hinton Fonda also affiliated with the Promise Place Women’s Shelter, the Arts Leadership League of Georgia, the Georgia Association of Woman Lawyers and the State Bar Fee Arbitration Panel.