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After Hours: Howard Caplan—A sense of social justice

“I’ve always been brought up with a sense of social justice to helping those who need help,” says Howard Caplan, of the Caplan Law Firm, P.A. (www.caplawfirm.com), “And I do receive a sense of satisfaction to be able to do my part to hopefully make someone’s life better.”

Caplan, a solo law practitioner whose practice is concentrated in the areas of business law, corporate law, franchise law, trademark and copyright law, and technology law, not only helps makes others’ lives better through his law practice, he also does it through his involvement with the Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS).

Getting involved

Caplan learned about JFCS’ Feed A Needy Neighbor (FANN) program, which is the Winn-Dixie emergency food pantry, from being a member of the Temple. “During Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year and is generally in September, many synagogues pass out bags to collect food for the needy, and then during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is 10 days later, people bring the bags back full of food,” says Caplan.

He decided to help out FANN even more by requesting that people who attend his biannual New Year’s Day party also bring food for FANN. “I figured as long as you are having a good time, bring something for someone else to have a good time,” says Caplan.

After his party, when he called up the food pantry to arrange the drop off of his party donation, he was asked to consider joining JCFS’ board. “The more I learned about the agency, the more I believed in its mission, and I joined,” says Caplan.

Being on the board

Caplan has now been involved with JFCS for the past five years, serving first as secretary, then for two years he served as first vice president, which is essentially the president-elect, and “when they asked me to serve as president, I accepted it as definitely an honor,” says Caplan. He has been president since June 2010.

In his presidential role, he has spent 180 hours in the last year helping plan events and participating on all of the committees. “I am an ex-officio member of all standing committees and make it a point to try and participate in all committee meetings,” says Caplan. “As president, I also meet with the executive director each week, attend eight regular board meetings a year, and then there are two or three committee meetings a month that I participate in.”

Giving back

Caplan says he does it all because he enjoys it and the “good feeling” that comes from helping others and knowing you are doing something good for someone else that may be less fortunate.

“I feel this responsibility to the community at-large to give back,” says Caplan. “It’s almost a sense of noblesse oblige in that there is far too little noble today and way too much me, me, me, and I, I, I. I feel this helps balance that out.

“I’ve always been socially conscious and believe that a measure of a society is how it takes care of its less well-off people.”

About the agency

Jewish Family & Community Services (JFCS) takes great pride in providing services to everyone throughout the North Florida community, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. Through nearly 100 years, Jewish Family & Community Services has remained true to the mission of helping people help themselves. JFCS offers emergency financial assistance; the Winn-Dixie emergency food pantry; adoption services—First Coast Adoption Professionals; adoption services—child safety adoption; child safety, foster care, and prevention; and counseling and workshops.

Howard Caplan is a solo law practitioner of the Caplan Law Firm, P.A. He can be reached at 904-256-3333, info@caplawfirm.com, or through www.caplawfirm.com.


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