On 22 November 2016, the Westin hotel in Warsaw was the venue of the FinTech Gala Awards ceremony hosted by Marcin Prokop, with the Cugowski trio playing an acoustic set. Awards in eight categories were presented. Piotr Schramm, a lawyer who has lent his support to many foundations, talks with us about the charity mission of the legal community.

Could you describe for us, in a nutshell, the charity event associated with the last FinTech gala ? 

Today, somebody out there needs help; tomorrow, that somebody could be you. You receive that which you yourself have given. There are those whom you can, and should, help by giving them the proverbial rod and reel so that they can go out and catch the fish that they need so that they don’t go hungry. But there are also the children; here, what is called for is bringing the fish in, scaling it and frying it, and then helping them as they eat. Is it your duty to help ? Do you have to ? Absolutely not. Will somebody down the line help you ? I don’t know, but everything goes around in circles...

So how did your idea to help charity work come about ? 

In my work, I am entrusted with special cases. This is my karma, always on my way somewhere, always learning. Irrespectively of what’s already achieved, strength and humility. Leszek Balcerowicz once said that one of the defining traits of a man is comprised in what he considers to be normal. The struggle day in, day out.

Does a recognisable name come in handy in fundraising for charity ? 

I believe that hard work and kind fate let us achieve our goals in different realms of life. In the public sphere, this is about giving of ourselves, opening our hearts so as to change the life of another. The beneficiaries of the foundation dream about having a desk, their own bed to sleep in, a computer so that they might have some semblance of contact with the outside world within the four walls to which some are confined all their lives...

Can representatives of a public service profession, as lawyers are, hope to increase interest in charity work ? 

They absolutely have to. We have lots of needy people here in Poland. I view the duty of the legal community in much broader terms. It’s about increasing awareness, pointing out the interdependences in this world drawing upon the knowledge gleaned from education and from life itself. To fight for yourself, with the law on your side. To stand on the right side. In other words, when I think of the needy, I don’t think only about those who have been afflicted with some particular calamity, but about practically all of us. This is part of the role of a public service profession. Contributing to the community. And the word “service” is not some accident. To look at it in this way, all of us are needy, myself included – I also receive and give back, I learn and try to pass on to others what I myself have received. This is the job.

Why are Poles so eager to join in fundraisers and in charity drives ? 

Because people are fundamentally decent ? Because people have kind hearts ? I believe that this is the natural state of things. Paradoxically enough, the less we have, the greater our willingness to step up and act in a disinterested way, without any agenda. There’s just one key issue – we have to be certain that the collection is an honest one, and that the money will go to those who really need it. Fortunately, there are many such initiatives. Me, I support a number of foundations and individual people. The Between Heaven and Earth foundation – practically from its very beginnings, the Children’s Dreams foundation. Individual people who are in need. We’re all mortally ill. You’re not going to live forever. Unless you achieve immortality through your actions. Can you do that...?

The gala featured a charitable auction during which bidders could vie for a boxing glove signed by Sylvester Stallone on the set of “Rocky", a jersey signed by Marcin Gortat, a tennis racket signed by Agnieszka Radwańska, and a football signed by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sponsors of the auction included Piotr Schramm.