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#GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday

On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, we invite you to join the second annual #GivingTuesday, an opportunity for all of us to come together and redefine what it really means to give.

This day follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We hope you will choose ABLE and LAWO as one of your #GivingTuesday recipients! Our work is critical to thousands of low-income people who are facing legal problems that threaten the stability of their families and their homes. Donate today using our secure online donation form.

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Legal Scams Target Potential Legal Aid Clients

Legal Scams Target Potential Legal Aid Clients

Attorneys from the offices of Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. (LAWO) are reporting scams that have cheated potential clients out of money paid for legal services they did not receive. The complaints have generated from individuals in Erie, Huron, and Ottawa counties, although scams of this type can be found throughout the LAWO service area.

"We have learned from several victims that they have paid hundreds of dollars in fees for legal assistance from what they think is Legal Aid," says Kevin Mulder, executive director of LAWO. "We believe these potential clients are being preyed upon by individuals who are confusing people with false promises and using self-help documents and informational flyers produced by LAWO.

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Human trafficking forum set for Saturday in Defiance

The following, written by Lisa Nicely was published October 25, 2013 in the Cresecent News.

Human trafficking forum set for Saturday in Defiance

Community members are the key to ending human trafficking in northwest Ohio.With that in mind, a human trafficking forum will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Buchman board room of the Serrick Center at Defiance College. The free public forum will have local experts talking about prevention and response to human trafficking.

The forum is being sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, Legal Aid of Western Ohio Human Trafficking Protection Project, Family Justice of Northwest Ohio, Defiance College and Children's Lantern.

"We will be looking at how, as a community, we can prevent human trafficking from happening in our area," said Sarah Warpinski, regional coordinator of the Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) Human Trafficking Protection Project. She said the event's focus will be on identification and prevention of human trafficking -- both labor and sex.

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Northwest Ohio new battlefield for human trafficking

The following, written by Lisa Nicely was published October 27, 2013 in the Cresecent News.

Northwest Ohio new battlefield for human trafficking
Forum helps raise awareness, engage community

Rural northwest Ohio is becoming the fastest growing area for human trafficking in the state.

That was one of the messages individuals heard during a human trafficking forum held Saturday at Defiance College.

"So much emphasis (to combat trafficking) was put on large areas like Toledo that traffickers are moving to northwest Ohio where they hope we don't know the signs so well," said Laurel Neufield-Weaver of the Northwest Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition.

The human trafficking forum was sponsored by the Northwest Ohio Rescue and Restore Coalition, Legal Aid of Western Ohio Human Trafficking Protection Project, Family Justice of Northwest Ohio, Defiance College and Children's Lantern.

"We are here to talk about human trafficking here in Defiance, our county and the surrounding areas," said Sarah Warpinski, regional coordinator of the Legal Aid of Western Ohio (LAWO) Human Trafficking Protection Project. "We know from other cities and states that the best way to stop and prevent trafficking is to have an engaged community.

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Fall Dinner Keynote By The Executive Director of Legal Aid of Western Ohio

The following appeared October 26, 2013 on the Miami Valley Trial Lawyers Association website. Read below, or view on the MVTLA website.

Fall Dinner Keynote By The Executive Director of Legal Aid of Western Ohio

Kevin Mulder, Executive Director of Legal Aid of Western Ohio, spoke to the Miami Valley Trials Lawyers Association at their October quarterly meeting at the historic Engineers Club of Dayton.

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University of Findlay aims to stop sex assaults with grant's help

The following article, written by Vanessa McCray, appeared October 29, 2013 on limaohio.com. Read below or view on limaohio.com's website. LAWO is a partner of the University of Findlay in the new effort.

University of Findlay aims to stop sex assaults with grant's help

FINDLAY — The University of Findlay will spend a $287,000 federal grant on efforts aimed at reducing campus sexual assaults, stalking, and domestic and dating violence.The private university in Hancock County, with an undergraduate and graduate enrollment of 3,668 students, won a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women.

It will use the money to help victims of sexual assault and other violence report incidents, get help and shed light on those problems.

"The primary goal is to do everything we can to protect the safety and well being of our students and campus," said Matt Bruskotter, assistant dean for environmental, safety, security and emergency management.

The project — which the university is calling Findlay Action Through Coordination, Education and Training — will provide centralized services on campus.

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Practical Lessons from One Program's Experience with Racial Justice Advocacy

The following article,written by ABLE Advocacy Director Aneel Chablani, was first published in 47 Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy 243 (September-October 2013). © 2013 Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

Practical Lessons from One Program's Experience with Racial Justice Advocacy

For poverty law programs struggling to maintain core services with fewer resources, the prospect of embarking on new racial justice initiatives or shifting focus to broader-based advocacy can create stress, anxiety, and even opposition from staff. Yet, as the articles in this Clearinghouse Review issue demonstrate, race equity advocacy is a critical component of our shared goal of reducing poverty and inequity. A failure to account for how race continues to be inextricably intertwined with poverty law issues will leave us ill-equipped in our efforts to have a meaningful impact on poverty in our communities. From this perspective, our diminished resources make even more critical our having to prioritize work with the potential for the greatest impact. Examining poverty law issues through a racial justice lens can make our impact on our communities deeper and wider.

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Volunteers sought to sign residents up for benefits; Locals help clients get Medicaid, other aid

Volunteers sought to sign residents up for benefits
Locals help clients get Medicaid, other aid

The following article appeared October 21, 2013 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the contents on The Blade's website.

Area agencies are recruiting volunteers to help people apply for benefits such as food assistance, Medicaid, and other programs using a mobile, online service.

Volunteers go to senior centers, senior housing complexes, libraries, churches, and other sites to serve as counselors for the Mobile Benefit Bank. It uses the online Ohio Benefit Bank, a program of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, to connect people to government benefits and even register to vote.

The nonprofit regional law firms Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, Inc. operate the local mobile program, which since its 2009 launch has helped nearly 2,500 people in Lucas and Wood counties sign up for public benefits by sending counselors into the community to tell people about the system and help them access various programs.

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Council approves RTA bus stops near mall: Beavercreek was at risk of losing $10M

Council approves RTA bus stops near mall
Beavercreek was at risk of losing $10M in funds over controversy.

The following article, written by Doug Page, appeared October 15, 2013 in the Dayton Daily News. Read below about a positive outcome for a case where ABLE provided legal representation to Leaders for Equality and Action in Dayton before the Federal Highway Administration.

City Council approved RTA bus stops near the Mall at Fairfield Commons by a 5-2 vote Monday after the federal government found the city's rejection of the stops two years ago violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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New Low-Income Broadband Program in Ohio

If you or someone you know is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, you may be eligible for two pilot projects in Ohio that will give you a monthly discount on high-speed internet service, free digital training classes, and in some cases a free computer.

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Back of the Bus

The following editorial ran in The Toledo Blade and references the Beavercreek City Council's denial of bus stops locations sought by Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority. LEAD, a local advocacy group in Dayton alleged that Beavercreek's action prevented some minority workers and residents from getting jobs or seeking medical treatment. ABLE is representing LEAD in this case.

Back of the Bus; Toledo suburbs that reject access to the regional transit system could face federal sanctions.

Some residents of Rossford and Spencer Township are moving to put their communities' membership in the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority up for a vote in November. These efforts are shortsighted and imprudent.

Both communities get a good return on investment in TARTA. Spencer Township gets $161,000 worth of needed service each year for $88,000, partly because of federal and state grants that supplement local funding. Rossford recovers nearly $100,000 a year through a tax increment financing district — a cost offset for transit service that the community would lose with a private provider.

TARTA handles roughly 75,000 boardings a year in the two communities. Leaving the only regional transit agency would isolate them, restrict mobility for people with disabilities, and disconnect employers from job seekers, within and outside the communities.

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The Statute Whose Name We Dare Not Speak: Emtala and the Affordable Care Act

The following article, written by David Koeninger (ABLE), appeared the in Winter 2013 edition of the Journal of Gender, Race and Justice. A portion of the introduction is posted below.

Scholars and activists have long suggested that every judicial or legislative victory for civil rights is tempered by the fact that the new rights won must be incorporated within a system largely designed to maintain the status quo. This Article examines this tension by addressing the struggle for equal access to health care in the United States. Access to health care was a significant, if underpublicized, aspect of the civil rights movement, and disparities in access to health care remain one of the most significant pieces of unfinished business in our country's ongoing struggle toward racial equality. Not surprisingly then, this summer's Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) fits neatly into our country's ongoing civil rights narrative--a victory tempered by new hurdles to altering the status quo. As such, this Article suggests that by upholding the individual mandate as a constitutional exercise of Congress's power to tax, articulating limits on Congress's ability to use the commerce power, and turning the ACA's Medicaid expansion into a state option, the Court, particularly Chief Justice John Roberts, may have altered the pathways by which Congress may reform and regulate health care and, equally significantly, protect the civil rights of minority groups.

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Pam Hayman Weaner: Making a Difference

LAWO Attorney Pam Hayman Weaner was recently selected as a "Making a Difference Award" recipient by the Northwest State Community College Foundation.

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FCC Reappoints ABLE Dayton Attorney to National Telecommunications Board

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Federal Communications Commission Reappoints ABLE Dayton Attorney to National Telecommunications Board

Ellis Jacobs, an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) in Dayton, Ohio has been reappointed to the Universal Service Administrative Company Board of Directors (USAC) by Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

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Poor people need lawyers to receive civil justice

Poor people need lawyers to receive civil justice

The following op-ed piece written by Joe Tafelski, executive director of ABLE, was published in the Sunday, May 5, 2013 edition of The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the contents on The Blade's website.

This past week, Americans celebrated Law Day — an annual commemoration of the fact that we are a society of laws and govern ourselves on that premise. We take great pride in having the best system of justice in the world, and we should.

To preserve order, we expect people to obey the law. In exchange, we tell people that our system of justice will be fair, that it will enable them to right wrongs, and that it will protect them from injustices imposed on them by their government or by private individuals or entities.

We also tell people that they are equal under the law, without regard to their state in life. Unfortunately, our good intentions and aspirations do not always measure up to reality.

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Medicaid expansion humane thing to do

Medicaid expansion humane thing to do

The following Letter to the Editor, written by ABLE attorney David Koeninger, appeared April 28, 2013 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the contents on The Blade's website.

Several years ago, local hospitals created Toledo/Lucas County CareNet, which has been a godsend for able-bodied working people who lacked access to health insurance but did not qualify for Medicaid. Unfortunately, the Ohio House of Representatives, by rejecting Gov. John Kasich's proposed Medicaid expansion, is threatening the viability of both CareNet and Ohio's hospital system ("Kasich's budget gets another shot; Senate could restore Medicaid, tax plans stripped by House," April 20). We must hope the Ohio Senate takes a different view.

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Grant Makers Need to Help the Poor Fight Legal Injustices

Grant Makers Need to Help the Poor Fight Legal Injustices

The following article, by Mary McClymont, president of the Public Welfare Foundation, appeared March 24, 2013 on philanthropy.com. Read below, or view the article on the philanthropy.com website.

Imagine that your spouse abuses you and your children. Or that a bank is about to foreclose on your home, even though you are up-to-date in making your payments. Or that you are a wounded veteran struggling to obtain government disability benefits.

You have suffered an injustice, and you want an opportunity to go to court to make things right. You need a lawyer, but you are poor. You think that someone will say, as you've seen on countless television shows, "If you can't afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you."

But that constitutional guarantee of a lawyer does not apply to people fighting civil injustices, such as unlawful evictions, denial of benefits, or access to health services—essential matters of personal safety, economic security, and family support that can threaten basic survival.

Not surprisingly, these dilemmas become even more common and acute during challenging economic times.

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Thank you to our supporters

ABLE and LAWO were able to take out a full page ad in The Blade as a benefit of being named a 2012 Nonprofit of Excellence by the Toledo Community Foundation, The Blade, and the Center for Nonprofit Resources.

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Toledo religious organization looks to revive vacant building

Toledo religious organization looks to revive vacant building

The following article appeared February 18, 2013 on the Toledo News Now website. It highlights an ABLE client's acquisition of a commercial building for development and improvement in Toledo's Old South End. The acquisition is part of a larger plan to develop the area. View below, or go to toledonewsnow.com to view the video.

A local religious organization is working to help "fight against blight" in the Glass City.

The city of Toledo is lining up a new owner for a large vacant building in the 1600 block of Broadway in south Toledo.

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Dayton aims to help illegal immigrant crime victims

Dayton aims to help illegal immigrant crime victims

The following article appeared February 14, 2013 in the Dayton Daily News. Read below, or view on the DDN website.

Dayton City Commission this week approved a $30,000 contract with a local law firm, aimed at improving communication with illegal immigrants who may be victims of crime.

"If individuals are undocumented, there is a significant deterrent for them potentially to report crime," Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl said. "As I've said many, many times, if you want crime to grow in a community, just have people too afraid to report it."

Federal law provides "U-Visa" status for some undocumented immigrants who are victims of crime. If the victim helps law enforcement authorities investigate and prosecute the offender, they can apply for a U-Visa, which grants four years of lawful immigration status, plus the ability to apply for permanent residency.

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Home, not back to prison

Home, not back to prison

The following editorial appeared January 30, 2013 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the article on The Blade's website. LAWO and ABLE are a part of this important community service.

Nationwide, more than 40 percent of inmates who are released from prison eventually go back, at an enormous cost to taxpayers. The price of incarceration in Ohio runs about $25,000 a year per inmate; in Michigan, it's nearly $34,000.

More than 95 percent of people in prison will go home sooner or later. One of the best ways to reduce state prison populations — and to contain corrections costs — is to make sure that fewer inmates who are released go back.

When inmates succeed on the outside, they pay taxes and contribute to society, instead of committing new crimes and returning to prison to serve sentences that can cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for each offender.

Overall, Ohio has done a solid job with the more than 20,000 prisoners who are released each year from its 28 prisons. They face numerous barriers, including problems with housing, employment, education, mental health, and substance abuse.

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Area activists cautiously endorse immigration plan

Area activists cautiously endorse immigration plan
Path to citizenship welcomed, but details have not emerged

The following article, written by Federico Martinez, appeared January 29, 2013 in The Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the article on The Blade's website.

Toledo-area immigration advocates Monday cautiously applauded proposed immigration reforms unveiled by a bipartisan group of Senators.

But advocates say more details are needed before the federal plan can be endorsed.

Mark Heller, managing attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality's Migrant Farmworker and Immigration Program, said the reform proposal is good news for many undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.

"I'm pleased they are on a path to citizenship if they are already in the U.S.," Mr. Heller said. "Overall I'm pleased. But it will depend on the details."

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