IMLAP’s Summer Heats Up, and August eNewsletter

When the weather heats up and the crops are ready to be planted, LAF’s Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Project (IMLAP) kicks it into high gear.  This year is no exception.  Thousands of migrant workers across the state work every day to plant, cultivate, and pick the food we eat; and IMLAP’s attorneys, paralegals, and students work to protect their legal rights.
Equal Justice Works Fellow Karla Altmayer is finishing up a year-long project focused on female farmworkers, who are more isolated than anyone.  She is doing outreach and education across the state that focuses on gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and workplace sexual violence.  She has worked to train hundreds of community advocates and empowered farmworkers across the state.  She has also developed a curriculum that is being used nationally to train advocates.
Staff Attorney Jose Alonso is working hard on connecting with farmworkers who are working in the fields of Illinois pursuant to the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program.  These workers labor and are housed in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the state, in conditions described as “as close to slavery as we have in this county.” Jose is currently working with an organization called Ladder Up to help these migrant workers learn about their rights and obligations under the tax code and for those who have to file income tax returns, to receive assistance in filling out the appropriate tax form.
IMLAP is also leading the way on a Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force.  One of very few of its kind around the country, they bring together federal and state law enforcement and government agencies; academia; social services agencies; legal assistance attorneys; and faith-based associations, to combat this every growing problem in Illinois.
IMLAP is doing great work across the state, and throughout the country, and we could not be more thankful for all their efforts.  You can read more about them, and lots of other great stories, in our August eNewsletter here.

Public Benefits Update

Here at LAF, we’ve been keeping a close eye on the constant flux of health care in Illinois as the state works to execute the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and put consumers into managed care systems.  As always, new issues are popping up, and this week consumers are dealing with complications in their Marketplace applications.

On August 12, the state sent out notices to approximately 10,300 Illinois consumers who are signed up on the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace regarding citizenship and immigration inconsistencies in their applications.  Consumers who receive these notices have until September 5th to respond with the appropriate paperwork or they will lose coverage on September 30th.  Our enrollment paralegals have begun advising clients on the steps they must take to keep their coverage.

We recommend that clients who receive this notice immediately log into their HealthCare.gov account and upload the requested documents or mail them to the address listed in the notice—even if they submitted the documents previously.  Consumers can also call Illinois Department of Central Management Service at 1-800-318-2596 to determine what documents are needed to verify their citizenship status, or to check whether their documents have been received.

Consumers can receive additional information about maintaining their Marketplace coverage here and here.

July 2014 eNewsletter

Other organizations might slow down in the summer, but it has been a busy few months here at LAF.
Our Young Professionals Board, which began in 2009, celebrated its fifth anniversary.  Five years ago the YPB had its first outing – a trip out on Lake Michigan on a cruise ship.  Ticket sales just barely covered the cost of the boat.  Fast forward to last November, when the YPB sold out a whiskey bar in the West Loop and – literally – drank it dry, and you can see how far this Board has come.  The YPB has continually upped its fundraising goals, and then surpassed them, raising over $120,000 for LAF in 2013.  This year, the YPB is on track to blow past its goal of $125,000.
The YPB also hosted an event to thank our summer law student interns for all their hard work, and now many of them are working hard on our upcoming Golf Outing in September (as well as planning for this year’s Autumn Affair – stay tuned for details!)  They’re amazing and we couldn’t be prouder of them, or more grateful to them for all of their work on behalf of LAF.

YPB Celebrates 5 Years!

On Tuesday, July 15th, current and former members of the LAF Young Professionals Board got together at Revolution Brewing Company for the YPB’s 5th Anniversary Celebration, an evening dedicated to celebrating all of the hard work and advocacy the Board has done on behalf of LAF since first forming in 2009.

A big thank you to Katten Muchin Rosenman for sponsoring this special evening.  Katten is a terrific partner in many endeavors with LAF, and has been instrumental in building and supporting the Young Professionals Board.

During the program portion of the evening, YPB 5th Anniversary Chair BeLinda Mathie spoke passionately about why she supports LAF.  You can read her full remarks below.

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Summer Intern Networking Reception

Every Summer, the LAF Young Professionals Board hosts a special reception for the law students and interns working with LAF, to thank them for their service to the agency and provide them with opportunities to remain engaged with us beyond the term of their time with us.  Check out the photos from this summer’s event on our facebook page.

This year, we had a great group of summer associates from LAF and a few of our YPB-represented firms joining us at Esquire Deposition Solutions for an evening of Revolution beers and informal networking.  LAF Executive Director Diana White spoke about the importance of supporting legal aid, and the benefits it can yield to a young professional:

“…I encourage you to get involved wherever you end up in the legal aid work being done in your community.  Believe me when I say that your future employer is never going to look at your pro bono and philanthropic activities and say “that person just isn’t leadership material.”  You might not always succeed in garnering their support for your efforts, but if you are brave enough to ask the firm’s pro bono coordinator to meet with the agency you’re supporting to talk about collaborating on a case, or brave enough to ask the marketing director to sponsor a fundraising event the agency is hosting, the worst they can say to you is no.  And a no is just that – a no.  It’s not a rejection of who you are and everything you stand for.  And oftentimes a no one time isn’t a no always – it’s worth it to learn everything you can about your company’s philosophy on pro bono service, and its budgeting practices for company charity initiatives, so you can use that information to turn a no into a yes.  I’m willing to bet – and I’m pretty sure the members of the YPB in this room would agree with me – that the people who step up and show a commitment to something higher than themselves also demonstrate other qualities that are in high demand these days in the professional world: namely an openness, persistence, and even fearlessness that have become critical skills in this new age of business development and client-focused service.  The people who make decisions about your future are definitely taking notice of people who set themselves apart from the herd.  Be one of those outliers, not only for yourself, but for the people like the ones we see each and every day at LAF.”

LAF would like to thank YPB member Megan Garvey of Esquire Deposition Services for hosting our event this year, and everyone who came out to celebrate another fantastic summer of service from our students.

 

LAF Picnic 2014

Last week, all the staff from LAF got together out of the office, to celebrate another year’s worth service to the community and groundbreaking work in the legal field.  We had a great time, and enjoyed a catered afternoon of burgers and cake, families, water balloons, and a piñata full of candy.
We want to share some photos from that day now that the wonderful Adela Carlin put together here (and more from Executive Director Diana White below the break), and thank the amazing social committee for all their hard work!

LAF Picnic 2014

 

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