May 2nd, 2023
A member of our team sat down with Gregg Ankenman, Chair of the Community Service Committee, and James de Los Reyes, longstanding Operation Dignity Board Member, both of Fennemore Wendel. The firm has been an Operation Dignity supporter since 2018.
Since 1909, Wendel Rosen, now known as Fennemore Wendel, has connected deep and diverse legal experience with genuine personal dedication to its clients and our larger community. For over a century, the firm helped shape the Bay Area skyline, build the region’s infrastructure, and protect California’s natural resources. Fennemore Wendel continues to guide families, organizations, and communities by counseling them on how to adapt to change, grow and protect what matters most.
In July 2022, Wendel Rosen combined with Fennemore, a Phoenix-based law firm with offices throughout the Western United States, to become Fennemore Wendel. The firm carries on the legacy of philanthropy that was a core part of Wendel Rosen.
When asked to describe their firm in five words, the gentlemen agreed: “committed to clients and community.” That is certainly true. The firm is a Certified B Corp with deep roots in its Oakland community and the East Bay. Community Service is a major component of the firm’s identity. This month, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Fennemore staff spent the week of the 16th honoring his legacy conducting service projects, both individual and collaborative, throughout the city.
While Wendel Rosen had been doing community service for decades, it wasn’t until the Fall of 2018 that they created a formal community service committee. One of the original committee members, Les Hausrath, was familiar with Operation Dignity and suggested the firm reach out to see if our two organizations could work together. A lasting collaboration was born.
Staff from the firm volunteered to serve a lunch and dinner monthly at House of Dignity, a veteran’s housing facility. They also hosted hygiene kit assemblies (producing up to 500 kits) annually and conducted outdoor cleanup workdays at Dignity Commons.
These activities became a well-established, annual routine, until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. As volunteering in person was no longer an option, the firm regrouped quickly. They reached out to our team, and we collectively decided on providing bagged lunches for our mobile outreach program.
Early on, staffers couldn’t safely gather to make lunches together, so they coordinated the lunch drop off dates with us and prepared them at home. The firm then delivered them to our office for us to give to folks in need. These days, lunch assembly still happens in some homes, but the team also meets at the office to put them together as a group.
These lunches are really the tip of the iceberg. In addition to partnering with Operation Dignity in that capacity the firm works with numerous other local nonprofits, focusing on service centers working on hunger, social service, and youth education. The firm also prioritizes local efforts so they can make a bigger impact.
Outside of Operation Dignity, the firm collaborates with Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (in support of their food distribution programs), Alameda County Community Food Bank, East Bay Children’s Book Project, Rebuilding Together Oakland, and many others. They also participate in annual activities like Oakland Community Day of Thanks and the Central American Refugee Committee’s holiday toy drive.
In summing up their philosophy, Chair Gregg Ankenman states: “People give when they can where they can.”
We are truly appreciative of the firm’s commitment to us, and to eliminating hunger. We look forward to many more years of successful partnership.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” Martin Luther King Jr.