University of Delaware
Office of Public Relations
The Messenger
Vol. 5, No. 3/1996
Caring contributor to society
     As a wet-behind-the-ears judicial clerk in Alexandria, Va.,
nearly a decade ago, Kyle Elizabeth Skopic, Delaware '84,
volunteered her free time to provide legal assistance to hospice
     One of her first cases was a man dying of AIDS who needed
help putting his affairs in order. As their conversation drifted
from legal matters to life in general, a tragic story emerged of
a bright law-school graduate who chose to suffer his disease
without support from his family. He feared rejection during a
time when AIDS bore more of a social stigma than it does today.
Gradually, the young man grew too tired and weak to continue
speaking. Soon after, he died.
     Another person might have ended volunteer work right then.
After long days of court cases involving all types of unhappy
circumstances, fleeing from more tragedy would have been
understandable. But, it wouldn't have been Kyle Skopic.
     In her career as a lawyer, Skopic has been a tireless
champion of the young, the needy and the dying. In addition to
providing pro bono services to the Hospice of Northern Virginia,
she chairs the Fairfax County Child Abuse Prevention Committee,
and serves as a member of a task force studying delivery of legal
services to the poor. She also gives presentations on legal
issues to high school students, provides ski lessons for Teen
Winter Sports and meets with prospective University of Delaware
students through the Volunteer Admissions Support Team (VAST).
     "I was raised to be volunteer-oriented," she says. "The more
I have to do, the more I'll get done."
     And, Skopic has always given herself plenty to do. While a
consumer economics major at Delaware, she served as a resident
assistant for three years and still found time to fulfill the
requirements for a Degree with Distinction. She also studied
economics at the University's London program, where she developed
further her interest in programs for the terminally ill, by
exposure to the well-known St. Christopher's Hospice there.
     For her honors thesis, Skopic examined Medicare eligibility
requirements and developed a model that hospices can use to
evaluate volunteer participation, allowing them to qualify for
Medicare funding. Today, that model is used by hospices
     With her knowledge of hospice, it was natural that she would
become a volunteer after graduating from the University of
Richmond's T.C. Williams School of Law.
     She remains active in hospice, assisting people by drafting
wills, power-of-attorney documents and other legal papers. She
also became a notary public so she could provide services to
homebound persons, and, sometimes, she finds herself running
small errands for the surviving partner-just because she cares.
     Skopic has observed that, oftentimes, people die shortly
after meeting with her to set their final affairs in order.
Through her services, she says, people in their final days are
able to tie up loose ends and put their minds at peace.
     "The will to live is a powerful thing," she says. "When they
come to the end, they're tired of fighting, but they need to get
things in order and say good-bye. Many times, I'll visit someone
and then find out the next day that they died."
     Skopic says she doesn't find that depressing. Rather, she
takes comfort in her hospice work. "It helps me put my life and
any problems I think I have in perspective," she says. "It makes
you wonder if you are really making the most of your life and
helps you comprehend it on a bigger scale."
     That aspect of her volunteer work was especially important
during the years Skopic worked on child-welfare cases. As an
assistant Fairfax County attorney, she represented social
services agencies and encountered situations of child abuse and
     And, she views that as a positive experience, as well. "I
got a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that I was helping
children," Skopic says. "It's with a heavy heart that you
terminate parental rights and put a child up for adoption, but
it's also rewarding to see the children placed into families
with loving parents."
     Today, Skopic has turned her attention to tax-collection
programs for the county, trying cases against tax cheats. "I see
how badly the tax dollars are needed, and it makes me angry to
see that some people are not paying when others are paying their
fair share," she says.
     In all of her work-whether it's professional or
volunteer-Skopic says she strives to fight for just causes and
demonstrate to the community that lawyers are caring contributors
to society. The rewards are many, she says.
     "When you give of your time as a volunteer, you get so much
more in return," Skopic says. "I have seen so many loving,
selfless acts that people have done for others. It instills a
good feeling in you about humankind."
                                 -Marylee Sauder, Delaware '83