People Who Care… Gratitude from Recipients of Pro Bono Services
Peter J. is an 85-year-old man who has lived in the same home for nearly 40 years. Though he lives on less than $1,000 a month, he is a generous person and has always been willing to help out his family and friends. This generosity, however, one day led to a situation that overwhelmed him. He invited some “friends” to stay with him when they lost their housing, and after several months, they became combative and abusive. Peter couldn’t afford an attorney and tried to solve the problem on his own, but eventually realized that he needed help. Fortunately, the Senior Self-Help Clinic, a collaborative project of the Contra Costa Superior Court and Contra Costa Senior Legal Services, was his starting point. Staffed by experienced pro bono attorneys, the Clinic helps seniors 60 years and over with everything from evictions to elder abuse restraining orders. After assessing his case, staff at the clinic realized that Peter needed an advocate and referred him to CCSLS. A staff attorney took on Peter’s elder abuse case and represented him at a contested hearing. Peter was granted a restraining order and an order directing the people to move out. He finally felt safe again in his home. Peter also had other legal issues that were outside the scope of the services that are provided at CCSLS. However, CCSLS referred him to a wonderful Contra Costa pro bono attorney who was able to assist him. Thanks to the generosity of so many of our local attorneys, Peter was able to restore peace to his life. He said that the help he received “gave me confidence that there are people who care.”
This is just one example of the impact pro bono attorneys can have on the lives of individuals in our community. But there are many others, including ensuring that older residents of the county complete Advance Health Care Directives. While these documents can be vital to the ability of a person to appoint an agent and express their end-of-life wishes, many people find the task of creating an AHCD daunting and simply don’t do it. CCSLS administers several AHCD clinics throughout the county using legal staff from corporate partners and individual pro bono attorneys. We regularly ask participants in these clinics to tell us how they feel about the help they received, and their responses are overwhelmingly positive. “Thank you for taking the time to help us. Great to have people who care about helping others.” One said “this program is wonderful. I would have kept putting off [completing the AHCD]” without the program. Another senior commented, “Because of the kindness and expertise of the personnel, I was able to do something very important for my family I hadn’t previously been able to do.”
Scores of pro bono volunteers are making a difference in the lives of residents in Contra Costa County every month. Join the ranks of the “people who care” for the sake of our community. The thanks and gratitude of those you help will more than reward you for your efforts.