The ripple effects of kindness, community service and giving back are easy to identify when you examine the personal and professional choices of O. John Alpizar, a noted Brevard County personal injury attorney, who came from modest beginnings.
And, they spring forward through his four children and seven grandchildren, who deeply revere and greatly respect, the patriarch that leads the Alpizar family.
John, as he is called by family and friends, was born in Key West to parents who journeyed from Cuba in the 1940’s and worked tirelessly to put food on the table and give their family access to a better life.
Growing up in Key West was a marvelous adventure at times, but also a time for concentration and studies, as John worked his way through grade school and then high school, becoming the first in his family to graduate.
The work ethic was ingrained. The drive was undeniable. But there was always time for giving back. “I learned that from my own father,” he said, about the importance of service to community and giving back to others.
After graduating from college (another family first) with honors, John attended and graduated law school in Ohio before returning to Florida in 1978, deciding to start his career and plan for a family right here in Brevard County.
His father also instilled the values of hard work and sacrifice for others, which has turned Alpizar Law into the leading personal injury law firm it is today. John recalls the story of his father coning from Cuba and arriving with 13 cents in his pocket and the clothes on his back. He worked tirelessly to build a life for his family, frequently working multiple jobs at once. This has resonated with John throughout his life and career. Those life lessons and characteristics have been at the center of John Alpizar building Brevard’s preeminent personal injury law firm specializing in car accidents, trucking accidents, wrongful death, motorcycle and bicycle accidents, boating accidents and incidents that involve catastrophic injuries.
“Personal injury lawyers get a lot of jokes about them. But my ability to help so many people in their time of need after an accident or life tragedy is inspiring and fulfilling to me. What I can do for them makes a real difference. I walk through these difficult times in life with so many people looking to me for help and that bond has formed many lifelong relationships with my clients. That’s what’s heartwarming about what I do,” says John.
After John’s career was underway, four children would be welcomed into the Alpizar family —three boys and a girl — all born and raised in Brevard. They attended local schools, swam at our local beaches, played sports, went to church, and made lifelong connections growing up on the Space Coast.
They also grew up listening to stories about their grandparent’s escape from Cuba with the rise of communism, settling in Key West, and witnessed firsthand a dedication and commitment to service through the actions of their parents. Two sons would follow their father’s footsteps into the legal profession. This is what has molded Alpizar Law not only into a highly regarded personal injury law firm, but also one of Brevard’s local business pillars for service and charity.
“Both my parents instilled in us to be thankful and to extend opportunity wherever possible,” said son David Alpizar, a trial attorney and shareholder in the family law firm. Another son, Scott Alpizar, joined the firm as a trial attorney in 2017. As a team, the family has formed one of Florida’s most preeminent and professionally respected personal injury law firms.
It’s no small coincidence that two of John’s sons wanted to work alongside their father. The respect and love are evident whenever either mentions or speaks about their dad.
“I can’t imagine any greater joy than having [them] come to the firm and work with me,” he said.
When they are not working at the family business, they thoughtfully identify ways to help expand their joy of blessing others in the community on a wider scale. When asked to help, there are not many things the Alpizar family has said no to.
For example, in 2013, Alpizar Law began sponsoring a Thanksgiving Turkey Giveaway to help families enjoy the holidays without the financial burden of having to buy a bird. Last year, they gave away more than 700 turkeys, and also benefitted a small local business where they purchased the birds. Since 2013, they have given away more than 3,000 turkeys.
“This is one of the most heartwarming things we are able to do for families in the community,” said John Alpizar. Family members, including grandkids and spouses, along with staff from the firm and volunteers from the community, assist at the annual event, waving handmade signs to draw drivers into the firm parking lot off Palm Bay Road. The Palm Bay Police Department manages traffic and one big bird is provided to each family, served on a first come, first served basis.
“We are always excited to host this event. With the devastation the coronavirus pandemic has caused to our local community, we are looking forward to once again helping hundreds of Brevard families enjoy Thanksgiving this year,” says John.
Over the years, many efforts of service to the community have helped local charitable organizations including:
- John has established the O. John Alpizar Endowment with the Brevard County Bar Foundation, generously gifting seed and ongoing funding to allow the endowment to assist community organizations identified through board selection. Additionally, he has served as past President of the Brevard County Bar Association, past President of the Central Florida Chapter of American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA), founding partner of the Brevard Zoo, Board of Trustees for Bethany College, and Board of Directors at Florida Business Bank and Security National Bank. He has also served as a member of the Brevard Art Museum, Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce and Space Coast for Marine Conservation.
- David currently serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement Space Coast, Brevard County Bar Association, Greater Palm Bay Chamber of Commerce, Operation Hope and Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association. He is a past president of the Vassar B. Carlton Inns of Court and committee member for Young Life Space Coast, a nonprofit assisting youth in connecting with faith through fellowship, events and camps. David also is active in the Florida Bar Association, Florida Justice Association and is a member of the University of Florida Alumni Association.
- Scott is a member of the Harvard Alumni Association and has served as part of the interview process for local high school students seeking admission to Harvard University. He serves as President-Elect of the Brevard Bar Association Young Lawyers Division. He has been a member of Vassar B. Carlton American Inn of Court.
As a few examples, Alpizar Law has been proud supporters of:
- Operation Hope, which assists families and individuals with educational and support services and hosts Back to School and holiday drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Candlelighters of Brevard, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping children with cancer and their families by offering emotional support and financial assistance.
- Junior Achievement of Space Coast, which helps over 13,000 Brevard students each year connect with relevant learning and the importance of staying in school, building a bridge between what kids learn in the classroom to how it is applied in the real world.
- Brevard Zoo, family fun Halloween activities such as “Boo at the Zoo” to Jazzoo.
- Drive Alive, a public service program to encourage safe driving and the importance of following traffic rules and laws, was developed and sponsored by Alpizar Law for years in local schools, with both John and David serving as spokesmen for the project.
- Parent Teacher Organizations: Alpizar Law helped raise funds for the procurement of new playground equipment, computers and other technology items, as well as classroom needs and school supplies for area schools in need.
- Children’s Home Society, which provides educational and counseling services to children and their families to help strengthen the family unit to help them attain lifelong self-sufficiency.
Giving back to the community extends throughout the family. David’s wife, Rebecca, while helping raise two children, serves as Chair Elect of Children’s Home Society, on the Board of Directors at the Haven for Children, President of the Parent Teacher Alumni Organization for Satellite High School and Treasurer of the Scorpions Soccer Booster Club. She also served on the Event Committee for New Life Mission (formerly Brevard Rescue Mission) and is past committee member for YoungLife Space Coast and Past President for DeLaura Middle School PTO.
John’s wife, Janna, is retired from Esquire Corporate Solutions where she served as National Vice President working with many Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies providing litigation support services. She is active in the fitness community, encouraging exercise and regularly attending Orange Theory Fitness in West Melbourne. Janna supports organizations including Candlelighters of Brevard, New Life Mission (formerly Brevard Rescue Mission), Brevard Humane Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida and The Children’s Hunger Project.
Scott’s wife Jaime serves the Brevard community daily in her work as a registered nurse for Health First. She uses her dual bachelor degrees from Florida State University and the University of Central Florida to help care for the sick and vulnerable in the community. She began working on a neuro-trauma floor and currently travels between all four Health First hospitals as a resource nurse, serving in multiple capacities.
Community service not only bonds the family to the community, but also helps give action to the belief that acts of giving create a ripple that returns good will as sure as it dispatches it. It is something that continues to be a family focus for future generations.
“Part of being a parent is ensuring that your own children learn some of the lessons that you’ve learned. My parents instilled the importance of community and giving back, both with time and resources, to those that need it. There are a lot of wonderful organizations that truly help others in Brevard and it is important for my children to make sure they understand the joy of blessing others,” says David Alpizar, who has two daughters, ages 15 and 12.
Whenever time and circumstance and calendars align, the family spends time celebrating birthdays, milestones and holidays together.
The Alpizars also enjoy traveling in their free time, whether together or with their individual families. “Growing up, we looked forward to a family trip each year, which allowed us to experience so many different cultures and customs.
This is something that I have looked forward to experiencing with my own family,” says David Alpizar, while reminiscing about a trip with his family to Europe last summer.
When the weather allows it, John and his sons are enthusiastic boaters, heading offshore to the deep seas to fish whenever possible.
In the sunlight, bright blue waters surrounding them, there is both peace and purpose. “In December 2018, we had a boy’s fishing trip with my father and two brothers to Tropic Star Lodge in Panama,” says Scott Alpizar who is already looking forward to the next fishing trip.
This, perhaps, is the most sacred of time among the father and sons who are living a legacy of service: to family, to community and to clients.
Alpizar Law Trial Attorneys is located at 1528 Palm Bay Road, NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905. For more information, call 321-549-7903 or visit online at www.alpizarlaw.com
Shawna Lucas (formerly Kelsch) has lived and worked in Brevard county for the past 20 years, serving in a variety of jobs and community service roles. She’s a former food and news reporter for Florida today, and was owner/operator of a marketing company that assisted clients and partners such as the Florida Healthcare Coalition, Blue Cross & Blue Shield Foundation for Florida, The Brevard Health Alliance, and Florida Tech to identify and solve pressing community health issues. She has she has dual bachelors degrees in Journalism and Sociology from the University of Miami, and was an inaugural fellow at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.