Re: Nomination of Justice For Children Foundation Inc. for the 12th Annual Justice Robert Benham Awards for Community Service.
To whom it may concern:
My name is Elaine Watson and I would like to lend my support for Justice For Children Foundation/Howard Spiva for this award. I worked for Howard as his legal assistant for 25 years, as a supporter of Justice For Children, and I am his sister. No one else is better qualified to tell you the story behind Justice For Children Foundation Inc. In order to give you adequate information, I have to tell you the story behind the foundation and it’s creator, Howard Spiva.
Howard Spiva came from humble beginnings. A mother who was a bookkeeper, housewife and a father with little education working hard to provide for his family of five. His father was taken away at an early age (33) when he was killed during the racial turmoil of 1966, by a young angry black male.
Leaving the mother to support her and her three young children alone. At that young age (6), Howard began his quest to be all that he could be. With the love of his family, he went to school and pushed hard against all odds to become the compassionate, caring crusader for “the people” that he is today.
Howard is what I call a “true believer”. He believes in “good”, he believes in “life”.
He graduated high school at sixteen and went straight to college. He then went to law school and graduated at age twenty-five. He had been told to become a mechanic by his high school counselor but he chose not to listen, he wanted to be a lawyer. That was his dream.
Howard beat all odds and worked hard and accomplished his dream. But along the way, he did so much more. He always reached out to help people. He was like a sponge for knowledge. He not only became a lawyer, but along the way he obtained his real estate license and then broker license, he got a pilot’s license, he studied Karate, he kick boxed, he obtained a jeweler repair license and he pushed himself to be the best he could be. He read books, he attended seminars, he learned everything he could.
He created a non-profit organization called Justice For Children Foundation Inc. early in his legal career. He also created a seminar company called The “Best School”. All though the school was not a non-profit, he used it to educate and help people. It never really made any money, but it sure gave a lot to the community. With these organizations, Howard had opportunities to give to what he called “his community”, “his roots” in Savannah. Howard believed that was a requirement, to give back.
Justice For Children primarily funded by donations from Howard (until around 2009), purchased bicycle helmets and gave them away to any child who needed them. Every year there would be a full day when Howard, family, employees, friends, who ever wanted to be there could give these helmets to children and help educate them on the dangers of not wearing a helmet. Howard had a dream that every child in Savannah would have a helmet to protect them from harm. He saw too many children receive brain injuries in his legal career that could have been prevented. So he was determined to do what he could to help prevent children’s injuries. He had a webpage that gave information to prevent injuries. In 2009, several people in the community became interested in JFCF and has now stepped in and helped further Howard’s commitment to make helmets available to more children. It is an ongoing commitment for Howard.
Howard also used The Best School to help educate people on real estate and investments and how to protect themselves and their families. Howard believed that if he could give people tools and understanding that he could help them to help themselves. Kind of instead of giving a man a fish, teach the man how to fish, you know from the bible. Howard has a passion for helping people that way.
Hundreds of people who have gone to his classes which were always either free or for a small donation for some of the local businesses, such as the small business chamber of Savannah and surrounding counties, YMCA, local real estate organizations, high schools and colleges in Savannah.
Howard would speak at high schools and colleges in the hopes of helping kids understand that school and education was important and how they could be or do what ever they desired if they worked hard and believed in themselves.
Howard is a visionary. He sees things that most of us can’t. He is like a builder, he can see the results, before the work is done. It is the same way with people. Howard believes in people, he looks past their faults and short comings and sees the “good” and “their own inner strengths”. He understands their weaknesses but he gives support to their strengths. He brings out the best in everyone he comes in contact.
The name of his school…The B.E.S.T. School… stands for Building Extraordinary Success today. Those are his beliefs. His students will tell you that he is an extraordinary teacher. He has shown people of all ages from grammar school to college graduates, business professionals and less educated people how to excel in anything they want.
Because of his logo for his law practice over the years, Howard has been teased by some lawyers that he is going for the “Super Lawyer” image.
But they are all wrong, Howard never tried to be a super lawyer. But in my book, Howard is the real “Super Man” and “a true believer”. The fighter against evil and injustice and the crusader for the people, not just as a lawyer, or teacher but as the great man he has become today with his Justice For Children Foundation Inc.
Howard through his law practice and school and Justice For Children Foundation is and will always be “Superman” to me.