The Boston Bar Foundation recently announced its list of 23 grantees that altogether will receive a total of $950,000 in grants. Through funding provided by organizations like the BBF, legal services providers are able to make huge changes in the lives of individuals and support the greater Boston community.
With this in mind, BBA Week reached out to a few BBF grantees and asked:
“What is one of your great success stories?”
Veterans Legal Services
“Our client had joined the Army when she turned 18 and served on active duty from 2000 to 2008. While serving, she had a relationship with another service-member and they had a child together after she left the Army. When Melissa came to VLS, she was a working single parent who was going to school part-time and living in a shelter because she was unable to make ends. The Department of Revenue was unable to assist her because the child’s father was also in the military – although he was not fulfilling his child support obligations. With the help of VLS, Melissa was able to locate her child’s father and immediately secure child support with assistance from the Army. VLS also assisted Melissa in obtaining a court order for support and health insurance for her son. Because VLS, with the help of the Boston Bar Foundation, stood up for Melissa, she and her son received the financial assistance they desperately needed and are now stably housed, with her son thriving in school. ”
“We had cases that involved three women from different countries who had all been married to U.S. citizen men and had been subjected to physical, financial, and psychological cruelty. They each came into shelter with their children, not knowing that they had any rights of their own at all. The Legal Advocacy Program helped them self-petition under the Violence Against Women Act, and they undertook the long, slow process of obtaining approval and then adjusting their status. Recently, they all obtained green cards, becoming Legal Permanent Residents. They are all working, paying taxes, and planning to travel to their countries of origin to see family members for the first time in years. Most importantly, they are safe from abuse and know they have rights.”
Children’s Law Center of Massachusetts (The EdLaw Project)
“Jimmy was an 11 year-old Latino boy in sixth grade with a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and a history of multiple hospitalizations. Although Jimmy was receiving special education services for his disability, the school often punished him for his uncontrollable behaviors. The culminating event was an arrest for “Disturbing School Assembly” when he had a psychiatric event during school. His delinquency attorney referred Jimmy to the EdLaw Project. One of our staff attorneys advocated for enhanced services at the school level to more appropriately address Jimmy’s needs. Jimmy was able to receive an out-of-district placement in a private therapeutic day school where he is thriving. As a result of the change in his education situation, all charges against him in juvenile court were dismissed.”
Volunteer Lawyers Project
“After approaching a confused-looking gentleman near the Lawyer for the Day table in Housing Court, VLP determined that he was facing a Motion to Issue Execution for failure to pay approximately $300 in back rent. The client had developmental delays and had been unable to grasp the seriousness of the eviction action. He had failed to attend court and was now facing removal from his subsidized housing within the next week. A VLP volunteer attorney made a limited assistance representation appearance in the matter; as a result, the Motion to Issue was continued indefinitely in order for the volunteer attorney to develop and implement a plan for the client’s continued occupancy. The attorney sought and was granted a referral to an organization that works on homelessness prevention. With the help of this organization, the attorney had a representative payee assigned to the client so rent would be paid on time in the future. As a result of the work of the volunteer attorney through the Lawyer for the Day Project, as well as with the assistance of partner organizations, the client is no longer facing eviction, has a representative payee, and has a service provider through an organization that works with persons with developmental disabilities.”
City Life/Vida Urbana
“After falling prey to a series of predatory refinance loans and working less due to the recession, our client “Enzo” fell behind on his mortgage and the bank foreclosed on his childhood home. Enzo started working both with a casework organizer and a lawyer in early 2011, pursuing multiple legal paths. After “Primed Properties” bought his home and hit him with an exorbitant rent increase, Enzo and his attorney launched negotiations for an affordable lease. Two months after the deposition, Enzo, his attorney, and a contingent of supporters arrived at Boston Housing Court prepared for a jury trial. Instead, their show of strength, both in the courtroom and in the community, had led to an offer: A two-year affordable lease, repairs to the property, and cash to cover Enzo’s counterclaims for damages. This case has become a model for negotiations in other “Primed Properties” cases. ”
If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Gabrielle Guarracino at email@example.com.