Most organizations enjoy watching their businesses grow; but at The Pro Bono Project, when our business grows, it means that more people in our community are struggling to meet life's challenges. Fortunately, because of you and your generous support throughout the years, The Project has been there to provide the help they've needed when life's demands required a civil legal solution.
Throughout 2012, The Project has seen our business grow almost exponentially:
- In 2011, The Project received an average of 108 new cases each month. In 2012, this number jumped to 155 cases a month, a 50% increase over 2011.
- Responding to a community in financial crisis, The Project's consumer outreach activities, including community-based clinics and a bankruptcy triage clinic, doubled the number of cases it handled in just the first 9 months of 2012, compared to the entirety of 2011.
- Through September 30, 2012, The Project helped over 2000 people successfully resolve civil legal challenges. However, there are thousands of other residents who still require assistance from The Project and its volunteer attorneys.
- To facilitate this process and meet the continually growing needs of the community, we must recruit, train, mentor, and support hundreds of volunteer attorneys, thus enabling them to fill a critical role in providing access to justice to everyone in our region.
The faces of our clients have changed as well. Today, we serve as many young people as seniors. Many of our clients of all ages are confronting legal problems caused by an economy recovering all too slowly from a major recession - an economy that shows no partiality for age or circumstance. We recognize that everyone has been affected by the slow recovery, but can you imagine not being able to afford an attorney when that is the only solution to your problem? This is just one example:
At 64 years of age, Mrs. Herman, a Project client who lives
on a fixed income and owns her home, got behind in her bills.
Solo practitioner Jenny Abshier, one of The Project's
newly-recruited volunteers, took on the case and
quickly got bankruptcy relief for the client. Praising Jenny
for her compassion and understanding, the client
told us that the Chapter 7 judgment changed her life:
"I feel like I will survive now."
Civil legal issues can be daunting for The Project's clients, but the fear and anxiety that accompanies them often takes as great a toll on our clients. It robs them of their self-esteem and productivity, leaving them immobilized and unable to see a path to a brighter future.
As 2012 comes to a close, our business unfortunately continues to grow. The Project's role is to respond to the needs of the community. Whether it is debt-relief, family services, overcoming the effects of the oil spill, or ongoing hurricane recovery challenges, we must continue to answer the call.
As we look forward to the coming year, supporting the needs of our local veterans and meeting the challenges of increasing consumer-related legal issues are emerging as areas of growth for The Project, and we already have begun exploring how to best serve these looming needs.
Once again, we thank you for your generous past support of The Project and the role you played in helping us open doors to the civil legal system for those within our community who could not afford this all-important access to justice. In the spirit of the holiday season, we ask again for your help at a time of year when those of us fortunate enough not to need The Project's services can make all the difference in the lives of those who do.
Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season,
Rachel Piercey Katie Lasky
Executive Director Board Chair
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