Wills For Heroes helps others in the name of fallen officer
Public Relations - Published: February 6, 2012

A record number of first responders and their family members received wills and other estate-planning documents prepared at no cost during the sixth Wills For Heroes event presented by the Delaware campus.

The event, held Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Delaware City firehouse in southern New Castle County, generated 139 wills. It was all done in memory of Lt. Joseph Szczerba, the New Castle County police officer killed in the line of duty in September. Szczerba and his wife, Kathy Szczerba, had obtained their wills through the Widener program, which is only two years old.

Kathy Szczerba attended Saturday’s event with Szczerba’s brother Stephen, and other members of the family. She spoke briefly and thanked Widener Law for making the program available.

“You are providing a very valuable service,” she said. “At the worst moment of my life, at least I had the will.”

She thanked the firefighters, police officers and other first responders for their selfless service. She also thanked their spouses, partners and families for being the rock they need after a difficult shift.

“The service Widener Law school is providing is a gift for you as well and I’m pleased to see you taking advantage of that opportunity,” she said.

Thirty licensed attorneys volunteered their time to prepare the documents. They were assisted by more than 30 Widener Law students who sat beside them to help with client interviews and document preparation. Several additional law school staff members provided logistical and technology support, scheduling services and served as notaries and document witnesses.

“This was our best event yet,” said alumnus Damiano Del Pino ’11, who brought the program to Widener Law while he was a student. “We made a difference in the lives of a record number of first responders, and Widener Law students got the chance learn while they provided an invaluable community service.”

The law school is grateful to the Delaware City Fire Company, which provided a hall for the event, graciously fed all the volunteers and donated all the paper for the documents.

Widener is the only law school in the country to serve as an affiliate to the Wills For Heroes program. The program is not available to first responders in states that lack a sponsoring affiliate. Of the 22 states that have programs, the majority are affiliated with law firms or bar association groups.