“Mommy, Mommy, our electric is on. It’s really on, Mommy!!!!?” Hearing her kids’ joy, the single mother began to cry and “felt like all the weight I have been carrying left off my shoulders.” Legal aid helps programs succeed that are funded to help those in need.
The single, working mother and her kids had been living place-to-place, sometimes in her car. She and her kids had finally landed a decent and affordable home in a subsidized project, but faced eviction soon after moving in because she could not get electric service due to a past due bill incurred while her husband was battling cancer. Fortunately, she contacted SEOLS.
SEOLS—working through her landlord, utility company, PUCO, the Department of Job and Family Services, and local charities—got her electric on, set up an affordable payment plan for her unpaid bill, and stopped the eviction. Each of these entities is set up, or has programs, to help those in need. But without legal assistance to pull it all together, this family, despite all these separate programs designed to help, would have slipped back into homelessness with all the resulting bad consequences that go with homelessness for the mother, the kids, and the community.
Legal aid does not just help people deal with the court system; it helps programs help those they are funded to help. This newsletter describes efforts by The Counseling Center in Portsmouth and SEOLS to work together to help recovering addicts resolve legal problems that hurt their chances for successful recovery. People battling addictions, by the time they seek help, are often facing seemingly insurmountable problems caused by their addictions: loss of a driver’s license to get to work, garnishments, harassment by debt collectors, housing, and domestic problems, etc. The Counseling Center can help those in recovery overcome their addictions. But they are still faced with trying to get back on their feet, pull their lives back together, and become productive members of their communities. SEOLS can help them navigate and overcome these barriers. Community services and legal aid, partnering together, increase the chances of success for the recovering addict and for the community efforts to battle the destruction of addictions.
To quote the Kresge Foundation:
Investing to help low-income people solve their legal problems is smart, results-oriented philanthropy. For decades, all over the country, legal aid groups have been a driving force that makes change real in millions of lives. They have answers when families need housing, food, health care. It’s their work that corrects bad policy and changes how society treats the most vulnerable.