Tommy Raskin Memorial Fund Makes Generous Gift to Mercy For Animals

Tommy Raskin was a special person with a huge heart for people and animals. We are honored to share that the Raskin family announced, during Tommy’s recent memorial service, that Mercy For Animals would be one of two inaugural recipients of grants from The Tommy Raskin Memorial Fund for People and Animals through the Greater Washington Community Foundation. Mercy For Animals received a $15,000 grant to fund the conversion of our 2022 summer legal internship program from an unpaid to a paid opportunity, to ensure that the program is accessible to all law students. The other inaugural gift went to Oxfam America to support its humanitarian work in Yemen, another cause about which Tommy cared deeply.

The memorial fund chose Mercy For Animals not only because our work to protect farmed animals and to end the exploitation of animals for food was close to Tommy’s heart but also because we had the great pleasure of hosting Tommy as a legal intern during the summer of 2020, between his first and second years as a student at Harvard Law School. Tommy applied his legal skills and dazzling intellect during his time with us, contributing to a number of legal projects, including to our impact litigation work. Tommy charmed us with his kindness and wit, and he convened regular meetings with the other summer legal interns to debate moral issues around humanity’s mistreatment of animals. In announcing their motivation for the grant to Mercy For Animals, Tommy’s sister, Hannah Raskin, shared:

Tommy learned so much about being an effective lawyer, writer, and advocate at Mercy For Animals, and we want others to enjoy the same experience while building the strength of the animal rights movement.

Tommy’s memorial service—full of moving memories from family and friends—reminded us of how Tommy lived his values every day. Tommy’s father, U.S. representative Jamie Raskin, said that Tommy “lived as though the truth were actually true” in deciding how he would treat people and animals. When Representative Raskin shared that he wished he could stay at the service telling stories about Tommy until everyone committed “to going vegan for at least one week in Tommy’s honor,” socially distanced attendees honked from their cars to show their support. Rep. Raskin described what we can all learn from Tommy, including that “the love you have for the people and the animals that you know can quickly pour over and become love for the people and animals you don’t know. Your love can become the engine of a quest for justice.”

During the service, Tommy’s family announced that they would remember Tommy on his birthday every year, establishing January 30 as the “Day of Good Deeds for Tommy.” We look forward to joining the Raskins in remembering Tommy through good deeds every January and are committed to continuing our work in his honor.

This post was written by General Counsel Daina Bray, who had the honor of working with Tommy Raskin during his 2020 Mercy For Animals internship.