Here are more examples of what our grantees accomplish!
Texas Legal Services Center Rural Legal Clinics Pilot Project
The state of Texas is called great for many reasons, including its size. To put its size into prospective, residents of Texarkana are geographically as close to El Paso as they are to Chicago, Illinois. And while Texas is home to some of the most populous cities in the U.S., it is also the state with the largest rural population, with more than 3,847,000 Texans living in the expansive rural parts of the state, as of the 2010 Census.
It is often difficult for those living in rural areas to access resources that are readily available in urban cities. Texas Legal Services Center (TLSC) created “Rural Legal Clinics Pilot Project” to circumvent the inaccessibility of legal aid and the lack of brick and mortar legal offices. This project will utilize internet video conferencing, public libraries, and volunteer attorneys to deliver free legal assistance to Texans living in rural areas with limited means.
A grant from the Texas Bar Foundation assisted TLSC in their mission to expand the availability of legal assistance for low-income individuals. TLSC will utilize existing information technology at public libraries in relatively populous rural areas to host virtual legal clinics, enabling Texans living in Gray, Kerr, Panola, Pecos, Uvalde, and Washington counties to meet “face to face” with a licensed attorney, over the internet. TLSC will provide each library location with the necessary equipment to facilitate the program including webcams, headsets, printers and scanners.
“The Virtual Legal Clinic Program is an innovative approach to ensuring access to justice. Based on the pilot results, we anticipate that it will become widely available throughout Texas and replicated in other states.”
Executive Director of Texas Legal Services Center
Arrow Child & Family Ministries Giving Victims the Courage to Testify Using Service Dogs
Freedom Place, a program of Arrow Child & Family Ministries, is a care and recovery center for victims of child sex-trafficking, serving girls ages eight to seventeen. It is the first long-term, comprehensive care facility in Texas for minor victims of domestic child sex-trafficking and is one of only five such facilities in the United States.
With a $25,000 grant from the Texas Bar Foundation, Freedom Place created a canine therapy and vocational program for the girls to care for and train the dogs used for therapy. The facility built to house the service dog program includes four dog kennels, a working room, a storage room, a washing and grooming area and an outside fenced common area.
The recovery process for victims of sex-trafficking is emotional and challenging, and one major obstacle is seeking legal justice from their abusers. The extreme trauma they have endured makes facing their perpetrators in the courtroom enormously difficult, and the victims’ fear and anxiety often prevents them from testifying. By allowing victims the comforting, strengthening presence of a service dog in the courtroom, Freedom Place’s new program will support justice efforts for residents who have the opportunity to testify against their perpetrators.
Goldie will help traumatized victims of child sex exploitation overcome shame, disgrace, and levels of insecurity not only when they possibly testify against their perpetrators but also in daily life
Service dogs have demonstrated promising results in helping crime victims summon the courage and strength to speak out in court against their offenders. Scientific evidence shows that the presence of a friendly, appropriately trained dog can result in decreased anxiety, increased speech and memory functions, and heightened mental clarity, thereby improving the efficiency and quality of the legal process.
“With the calming, supportive presence of a service dog for an added boost of courage, more girls will testify about their horrific experiences as coerced victims of commercial sex-trafficking, and more perpetrators will be put behind bars.”
Chief Relations Officer of Arrow Child & Family Ministries
Legal Aid Society of Lubbock Holistic Legal Services
Domestic violence is a crime that has lasting consequences not only for the victim of the abuse, but for family members and the community. By assisting victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse to help break the cycle of violence, the Legal Aid Society of Lubbock improves many lives.
To address the growing need for legal services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, the Legal Aid Society of Lubbock, with funding from the Texas Bar Foundation, has established the Holistic Legal Services Project. The project places a Legal Aid attorney inside the Women’s Protective Services shelter full-time to make legal services more accessible to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. A Women’s Protective Services advocate is also available at the Legal Aid Society office to offer clients additional resources, such as housing, counseling and clothing.
Through a holistic approach, the Holistic Legal Services Project seeks to ensure that victims of violence have immediate access to resources which assist them in separating from their abuser. The goal is to allow the victim to safely occupy their residence, attend work or school, and live their lives without the constant fear of further abuse.
“This grant year, the attorney at the WPS shelter has assisted 357 primary victims and 90 secondary victims with advice, referral, or legal representation. The Legal Aid Society of Lubbock is grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for this opportunity to help the victims of domestic abuse in our communities.”
C. Kay Caballero
Executive Director, Legal Aid Society of Lubbock
ProBAR The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project
As children from around the world flee dangerous situations by traveling thousands of miles without adult assistance, they often arrive in America to find themselves detained by the U.S. government. Most of the children are non-English speaking. All of them have little or no money, no right to appointed counsel, and do not receive a guardian ad litem.
The South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR) provides pro bono legal services to asylum seekers detained in South Texas. After fleeing violent crimes against their family, civil war, political persecution, and abuse, arriving at ProBAR is the best prospect of hope for a safe future in America.
Volunteer attorneys, law students, interpreters, and legal assistants make these dreams possible through the donation of time and talents. But none of this would be possible without the financial support from organizations nationwide, including the annual support from the Texas Bar Foundation.
“When Colombian guerrillas made us abandon our land forcing us to live as displaced people because of the violence in Bogota. There we lived for years and at the same time burying the assassinated and many disappeared members of our families. I turned myself in to Immigration in Brownsville. I went to one of the classes that ProBAR gave to the detainees so that they could know the rights they had. In a moment I started having hopes and dreams again. In that moment, ProBAR started to give me support. Truthfully, ProBAR contributed to the first step in a transformation, not only mine, but that of all of my family. Now that I was here, I could support them in leaving Colombia and reach security and tranquility in the form of political asylum in Argentina.”
-Rodrigo who won asylum in 2006, now a university student in San Francisco
“It’s like someone who helped you when you can’t see, like if I was blind and ProBAR gave me my eyes. I did not have a life and ProBAR gave me a life. It is not a life without peace, ProBAR gave me peace.”
-Abdi who was granted asylum 2007 and now lives in Denver where he works and a McDonalds, is taking English classes, and plans to enroll in community college