In the tradition of previous Decembers, we’ll be sharing thoughts and stories about some of those responsible for making LAF the invaluable source of legal aid that it is. Throughout this festive month, check this blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to get a look at some amazing people doing amazing work. We wouldn’t be LAF without them!
As a paralegal in the Public Benefits Practice Group, Lisa’s position is a platform to change lives for the better. Often, this change begins with sharing important information that can be difficult to come by or is completely overlooked because clients are unaware of the resources available.
“A lot of people think they can’t get cash assistance, which is super not true. At LAF, I really get an opportunity to help the people that come in to see me, but also to communicate information to them. They tell their friends and I get people coming in who tell me ‘my friend came in last week, he said you helped.’ It’s really an opportunity for me to share information in a way that I haven’t had at another job.”
Many people desperately need that information, particularly when navigating a vast, complicated system where mistakes can -and do- happen.
“Last week, I was at one of the city offices where we help people enroll in benefits. They’re only able to serve City of Chicago Residents because that’s where the funding comes from, but there was a woman who came in from one of the touching suburbs who has taken on responsibility for 3 of her daughter’s children while her daughter is elsewhere. Before the front desk could turn her away, I ran out and said ‘Wait! I want to make sure you’re getting cash assistance!’ It turns out she had tried to apply for it and they had told her she wasn’t eligible, which was wrong. So I called her into my office and we sat down and talked about the things she needed to say and what she needed to do if they refused to process it again. Here was a lady who was entitled to another 300 dollars a month who had been given misinformation, and I was able to step-in and help her out. Being able to empower people to advocate for themselves is really great.”
The kind of counsel Lisa provides is an essential part of getting the legal system to work its best for the individuals that need it most. In her words: “Equal justice is equal access to information and resources.”
Lisa is that information, she is that resource, and we are lucky to have her.
Making legal information accessible to everyone doesn’t happen on it’s own. It starts with you. In honor of today, #GivingTuesday, make your donation at http://www.lafchicago.org/giving-tuesday-at-laf or by texting “LAF” to 243725.