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ABLE, LAWO show appreciation for clients


OCTOBER 6, 2009

ABLE, LAWO show appreciation for clients

The following appeared October 6, 2009 in The Toledo Journal. Read below, or view on The Toledo Journal Web site.

Clients appreciate the services they receive from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) and Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO). Staff members for both nonprofit law firms wanted to let the clients know the feeling is mutual.

We are doing this as a show of appreciation to our client community," Deb Jennings said at ABLE/LAWO's Community & Client Advocacy Day held Friday, Oct. 2, outside the new Center for Equal Justice on Jefferson Avenue.

"We want the community to know that it is truly more than a building," added Ms. Jennings, the managing attorney for the firms' Legal Aid Line. "It's a place where the community feels they can come for the services they need."

The following appeared October 6, 2009 in The Toledo Journal. Read below, or view on The Toledo Journal Web site.

Clients appreciate the services they receive from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) and Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO). Staff members for both nonprofit law firms wanted to let the clients know the feeling is mutual.

We are doing this as a show of appreciation to our client community," Deb Jennings said at ABLE/LAWO's Community & Client Advocacy Day held Friday, Oct. 2, outside the new Center for Equal Justice on Jefferson Avenue.

"We want the community to know that it is truly more than a building," added Ms. Jennings, the managing attorney for the firms' Legal Aid Line. "It's a place where the community feels they can come for the services they need."

Because ABLE and LAWO practice a "holistic" approach to serving clients, many agencies and offices they deal with regularly were part of Advocacy Day, which included information tables and free lunch for visitors and participants. The Food For Thought mobile food pantry was among the agencies present.
"So clients cannot only get a meal, they can leave with food," Ms. Jennings said.

ABLE and LAWO raised $6.1 million to purchase and completely renovate the building at 525 Jefferson. They had been located on two upper floors of the Spitzer Building downtown.

"So now we have a much more visible presence," said Joseph Tafelski, ABLE's executive director. "One of the visions we have for the Center for Equal Justice is to connect legal aid a lot more with the community."

The law firms held a gala for capital campaign donors the previous evening under a big tent set up across the street from the Center for Equal Justice. Mr. Tafelski, saying he, too, appreciates their clients, said it was appropriate to keep the tent up, hold an Advocacy Day and invite clients and prospective clients to "share in the celebration."

"Our clients struggle day to day and we know and I think we really empathize with them about the challenges that they face every day," he said. "It's not easy. Right now, an increasing number of people are trying to survive. We want to show them that we understand their problems and we want to help them more with their problems."

ABLE is marking its 40th year this year. Mr. Tafelski said it and LAWO will be here for as long as the need for free legal services exists.

"We're law firms for the poor and our goal is to provide as good or better services than any other place they would go in town for legal advice," he said.

In addition to Food For Thought, participating in Advocacy Day were Fair Housing Center, Apprisen Financial Advocates, Lucas County Child Support Enforcement Agency, Lucas County Auditor's Office, Neighborhood Health Association, Toledo Children's Hospital, AIDS Resource Center, Maumee Valley Habitat for Humanity, the U.S. Department of Labor, The Source, United Way of Greater Toledo, Catholic Charities, Red Cross, NAMI, Area Office on Aging, and the United States Census.

At the Census table, Michael Brownlee and Robert Fletcher passed out information packets about the upcoming counting of people in the U.S. Included in the packet was the phone number (1-866-861-2010) to call regarding getting a job with the Census Bureau.

Attorneys for ABLE and LAWO also were under the tent, seeing attendees to determine eligibility for free legal services and make referrals if visitors were not eligible.