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June 2014 • New Frontier CHRONICLE—Page 7

Walked through trials Salvation Army legal clinic joins local circuit court to advocate for struggling Detroiters.


etween hiring lawyers, sifting through court jargon and understanding your rights, the legal system can be tricky to navigate— not to mention costly. In Detroit, where nearly two in five people live in poverty, many find answers at The Salvation Army’s William Booth Legal Aid Clinic (WBLAC). Launched in 1994, WBLAC provides free legal counsel to participants of The Salvation Army Detroit Harbor Light Center, as well any residents in the community living at or below national poverty guidelines. The clinic, which celebrated its 20th anniversary last month, has helped resolve over 20,000 cases. Amy Roemer, who stepped in as clinic director early in 2013, recently initiated a partnership with the Family Division of the Wayne County Circuit Court, the latest in a series of projects designed to advocate on behalf of the low-income public. Twice a month, WBLAC sets up a service area at the Wayne County Courthouse to help anyone with family-related legal needs. Whether regarding child support, custody or visitation issues, clients can have motions, petitions or orders drafted and filed on the spot. Richard Halprin, WBLAC staff attorney, said the service is useful for those facing legal troubles who may be uncomfortable expressing themselves in a court of law. “The worst thing that happens in the courts is when you’ve got two parties and no lawyers, and people that aren’t necessarily able to articulate or advocate sufficiently or don’t know how to explain themselves or follow through with the paperwork, so you’ve got a judge that wants to push them to the back of the line,” Halprin said. “The clinic will clarify, and help get their [needs] resolved on the spot.” Prior to 2000, WBLAC functioned primarily as a service to residents of the Harbor Light

SINCE OPENING, WBLAC has helped resolve over 20,000 cases and mentored 168 law students, who have volunteered nearly 19,000 hours.

Center. The courthouse partnership, Halprin noted, has helped raise WBLAC’s profile and status in the community. According to Roemer, when a lawyer or law clinic has reached a certain stature, cases tend to move more smoothly, which allows WBLAC to serve as many eligible clients as possible. “The partnership helped us establish a measure of credibility with the court staff and judges that has allowed us to operate in a more efficient manner, cut through procedural red tape more quickly and obtain optimal results where trust and reputation may be the tiebreaker in areas of discretion for

court staff or judges,” Roemer said. WBLAC’s legal staff consists of licensed practicing lawyers as well as senior law students who are able to represent clients in court proceedings. While staff members do not advocate for clients in the courtroom for these types of cases, simply walking them through the process can help ensure equal access to justice, Halprin said. “It’s gratifying to help someone with something they otherwise would not know what to do about,” Halprin said. “We’re moving impediments to people’s progress and the gratitude that they really is surprising how much the clients appreciate us.”|NFC

Modesto Citadel receives county funding Money will benefit homeless and youth outreach BY DIANA SANGLAB The Salvation Army Modesto Citadel Corps received three grants from the Stanislaus County Development Department, including a $17,000 Emergency Solutions Grant to the homeless shelter program, a $14,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for the child development program and a $12,805 grant for the homeless meals program. Totaling over $43,000, the funds will help with staffing and operations. Although the corps receives funding from multiple sources, Debra Qualls, grant writer and social programs administrator for The Salvation Army in Modesto, said that this is the first time the corps requested funding from the county for the child development program and homeless meals program, both of which were previously funded through other foundations. “We provide a public service to low-income and working parents who have a need for childcare. The county is partnering with us to help us in that area as well as helping us feed the homeless,” Qualls said. “That’s an expense that we take on and it provides food for those who have no other places to get food.” As for the shelter funding, this is a recurring grant distributed by the county. However, since the county’s funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development decreased, the grant reward was also lower than usual. Modesto has a poverty rate of 15.3 percent with almost 39,000 people and 7,700 families living in poverty. According to the U.S. Census, 19.5 percent of Modesto residents are below the poverty line. The

The county is partnering with us to help us in that area as well as helping us feed the homeless.’ —DEBRA QUALLS median household income of the city has grown in the past decade, but is still lower than both the state and national average. The median household income is $49,205, compared to the state median of $61,400, based on 2008-2012 data. The Salvation Army Modesto Corps helps serve over 30,000 meals each year to the homeless, low-income families, and seniors. The Child Development Center can serve up to 60 children per day. The Berberian Homeless and Transitional Shelter can help up to 100 guests depending on the time of year. The recurring grants for this upcoming year’s budget are set for the Modesto Corps, but the corps is awaiting word on pending foundational grants. “It’s the same type of CDBG funding as the county, except it’s through the city, since the county doesn’t cover Modesto city limits, per se,” Qualls said. “I continually look and will apply for any kind of money from foundations or any other avenues that will onset our services.”|NFC

Carol Jaudes performs “The Three Bonnets” at the SAW-ROA retreat.

SAW-ROA holds 10th retreat Members of The Salvation Army West-Retired Officers’ Association (SAW-ROA) met in May at Camp Mt. Crags in the Malibu mountains of Southern California for the annual retreat. Current president Major Ron Bawden chose the theme “Not Weary Yet” to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the SAW-ROA retreat. Western Territory leaders Commissioner James and Carolyn Knaggs led the sessions during the weekend, with music by the SAWROA band, led by Major Fred Seiler, and chorus, led by Major Carol Pontsler. Musical guest Carol Jaudes and accompanist Karen Krinjak from the Eastern Territory offered an evening of “Broadway Dreams” and a drama, “The Three Bonnets,” that recounted the lives of Catherine Booth, Evangeline Booth, and Eva Burrows. The 2015 SAW-ROA retreat—“Joy for the Journey”—is slated for April 30 - May 3, 2015. Under the leadership of future 2014 SAW-ROA president Major Donna Jackson, special guests will be Lt. Colonels Harry and Barbara Brocksieck, Central Territory retired officers who also served in Russia.|NFC

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