Real Stories: People Helped by Administer Justice
Confused and feeling hopeless, each of these individuals turned to Administer Justice out of desperation. With such a large gap in the availability of legal aid in the suburbs, these individuals, like thousands of others, had nowhere to turn. Without a legal advocate, their situations would have ended tragically. Thanks to caring supporters, Administer Justice was there offering help and hope in the midst of confusion and fear.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH “MARIA’S FLIGHT” and learn how one family’s life was changed through the Administer Justice ATLAST program.
Meet the Stephen family:
Marjorie, Laura, Lana and Adrianna- four generations of women living together to make ends meet. But after a series of events, including job loss and illness, they were no longer able to make their mortgage payments.They contacted their lender seeking a loan modification but with no success. Eventually, a foreclosure notice was served. With nowhere else to turn, they came to Administer Justice where an attorney was able to review their case, identifying that they were victims of predatory lending.The attorney advocated on their behalf and within one week, the lender agreed to a loan modification allowing the family to keep their home.
Meet Sylvia & Hector*
Sylvia lives in Aurora with her 17 year old son, Hector who has cerebral palsy. He cannot make decisions for himself and needs care around the clock. Sylvia told the Administer Justice intake attorney that Hector would be turning 18 in the summer and she wanted to get guardianship of her son. She was confused about what she needed to do and could not afford an attorney. An Administer Justice volunteer attorney was willing to take Sylvia’s case on a pro bono basis. After receiving the physician’s report, the attorney filed a Petition for Guardianship. The attorney went to court with Sylvia in late summer and guardianship was granted soon after Hector’s 18th birthday! The attorney continued to work with Sylvia to put in place a special needs trust to provide for Hector’s continuous care and a successor guardian in the event Sylvia dies before Hector. Thanks to her pro bono lawyer, Sylvia now has peace of mind and the assurance that her son will be properly cared for in the years to come. *client names have been changed.
Arlene* came to our office in a state of panic. She had recently been at the Kane County Courthouse where a hearing had been held on the emergency Order of Protection she had filed on her abusive husband. Arlene suffers from panic attacks and during the hearing, completely broke down and was unable to even answer the judge’s questions. Her husband had an attorney with him, who presented on his behalf and the order of protection was denied. Arlene had already sought help from the only other legal aid provider in the area. But because they were already representing her husband, they were unable to help her. After the hearing, Arlene returned to her house and so did her husband. He became physically abusive again, took her keys, changed the locks on their doors and would not allow her back in the house. With little family in the area, Arlene had nowhere to go and had no idea what to do next. She was also very concerned because she would soon be receiving an inheritance from her deceased mother and feared her husband would take all the money as they shared a bank account. At Administer justice, Arlene found practical help and hope. She met with an attorney who was able to explain her rights and the legal steps she should take next. She was also connected to a local shelter for battered women, and advised to secure her safety before taking any legal action. After reviewing her case, our Legal Services Director found an attorney to represent Arlene. Although Arlene has a long road ahead of her, she is no longer alone in her struggle. Arlene now has a fighting chance to receive fair representation and the justice she deserves.
*client name has been changed.
Meet Ricky* and Liam*
Ricky arrived at our office for his legal appointment distraught by the idea that his 3 year old son, Liam, could be taken away. Ricky and his son’s mother had never married, yet they maintained a positive relationship for the sake of their son. Although bringing home just under $1,000 a month working full time as a janitor, Ricky always faithfully provided for the financial needs of his son and was active in his upbringing. However in the last year, Liam’s mother had become involved with someone else and began limiting Ricky’s time with their son. Each time Ricky attempted to talk through the problem, she became argumentative, denying him visitation. Then,Ricky received a phone call from his son’s mother saying she and her new boyfriend were moving to Ohio and taking Liam with them. She told Ricky that if he ever wanted to see Liam again he would need to come to Ohio on ‘her terms’ and that it would be up to her if he would be allowed to spend time with his son. Ricky felt helpless and could not believe this was happening. He had no idea what rights he had or what to do. Fortunately, a friend told him about Administer Justice. Ricky met with a volunteer attorney who advised him of his rights and Ricky is now receiving legal assistance with establishing parentage.The attorney that met with Ricky sensed that although he felt some relief knowing he would be receiving legal assistance,that Ricky needed more than just legal help, he needed hope.
The attorney brought Ricky down the hall to meet with a Volunteer Client Advocate. The Advocate offered to pray with Ricky. He explained that he had not been to church since he was a child but that he would appreciate the prayer. Afterwards, Ricky started asking questions. He wanted to know more about God and how He works in people’s lives. He wanted to know about grace and Jesus. Our Client Advocate spent over an hour with Ricky, sharing the gospel and the truth about God’s love and concern for him and Liam. The Advocate later reported that, “Ricky was like a sponge. He had so many questions about God and opened up to me about his fears.” Before Ricky left our office, the Advocate provided him with a Bible and a pamphlet called the Father’s Love Letter which beautifully spells out the love God has for Rickey and his son. Ricky left with new found hope and the knowledge that God will provide for him and Liam and get them through this challenging time. *client names have been changed.
A SNAPSHOT OF OUR CLIENTS
(based on 2015 data)
68% are women
Average Age: 44
Average number of dependents: 2
Average household income: $13,893
49% are Latino/Hispanic
34% are Caucasian
12% are African American
4% are Asian
44% were referred by their church or a social service agency
32% were referred by word of mouth
15% were referred by a legal professional (judge, attorney, bar association)
100% had nowhere else to turn.