eNewsletter - June 2016

   LAF eNews Update
June 2016   
In This Newsletter
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Meet José Alonso: Solovy Award Winner
José Alonso accepting the Solovy Award
At our 50th Anniversary Luncheon earlier this month, we celebrated the incredible efforts of LAF senior attorney José Alonso with the Jerold S. Solovy Equal Justice Award.  Below is an excerpt of his speech that day:
Our clients face many legal issues and many barriers to justice.  A typical client may be a migrant farmworker who made the trek to Illinois only to find that a recruiter lied about how much the workers would earn. The worker can’t afford to put food on the table and can’t access food stamps because he can’t understand a food stamp denial letter.  Or our client can be a meatpacking plant worker who is a survivor of sexual violence at work, is undocumented, and is terrified to speak up because the abuser threatened to call immigration if she reported the abuse.  Or a foreign agricultural worker who is forced to work long hours against his will, is exposed to pesticides, and is afraid to talk with us because he may be blacklisted from future recruitment.  Those are the stories we hear throughout the state.   
We drive thousands of miles in our outreach.  We visit workers where they feel most comfortable - their housing, a local church or social agency.  We confront angry employers who do not want us to speak with “their” workers.  We listen to stories of injustice and suffering and many times, we are the first people who hear the story.  We help workers figure out what justice means to them and we walk with them in their journey to seek that justice. 
There is absolutely no way that I could achieve any successes in this work without the support of everyone in the Immigrants and Workers’ Rights Practice Group.  Miguel, Pedro, Lisa, Nubia, Matt, Suzy, the rest of the crew, our law student interns, pro bono volunteers, and the lists goes on.  Thank you for standing up with and for and our low-wage, immigrant worker community.  Thank you for your advocacy, your example, and for working together in our quest to find justice for our clients.  This recognition is our recognition. 
And if you think about it, we are just one group of advocates in LAF’s 50th year of existence. That means there were 50 years’ worth of amazing advocates who came before us.  For 50 years, LAF advocates have been on the front lines representing people in poverty and vulnerable communities.  Our work currently impacts over 30,000 people a year.  Thousands of advocates have come through LAF’s doors in the last 50 years to help build this organization.  I know of very few places that have that kind of history and that kind of impact.
LAF is here because it needs to be here.  The hope is that the powers that be, lawmakers, government agencies, courts, employers, etc. will someday figure out how to work with people in poverty, address the issues that they face, and erase barriers to access justice. Until then, you better believe that LAF, its advocates, and supporters will be there to advocate for and with people in poverty in their journey to find dignity, opportunity, peace, respect, and justice.  
Congratulations again, José!
Check out LAF on Social Media!
Follow us on Twitter at @ChicagoLAF, like our Facebook page, catch up with us on Instagram,
andread our blog at lafchicago.wordpress.com to keep up with all our work!

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A special message
from LAF
Executive Director
Diana C. White
After 50 years of service to the poorest members of our Chicago community, we still struggle to sum up everything LAF does for its clients.  Year after year, the Annual Luncheon is one of the best ways to share the stories of LAF, and this year’s event was no exception. 
In this month’s eNewsletter, relive the excitement of the Luncheon, by perusing a profile of José Alonso, who was presented with the Solovy Award, reading Johnnie Brown’s speech about how LAF helped her keep her child, watching the new video we premiered at the Palmer House, and checking out the photos and social media from the big day.   
As always, on behalf of everyone at LAF and all our clients, I want to thank you for your support.  Your generosity over the past 50 years got us this far, and your ongoing support will keep us strong for the next 50 years!
Diana C. White
LAF Executive Director
Luncheon Success! 
A new Video, Social Media Recap,
and Event Photos from the Big Day
For those able to attend, thank you so much for joining us for LAF’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon.  We hope you were as pleased as we were to hear the stories of LAF’s history and impact, and were moved by the words about the effect LAF has had in changing people’s lives long-term.  We were thrilled to share a new video about two clients, Vincent and Edith, which you can watch again here.  For those who weren't there, be sure to check out this new video!  
We also celebrated all of your excitement of our day on social media, including your incredible support that allowed us to raise more than $36,000 in just a few minutes.  You can relive that enthusiasm in a Storify recap here.  
"You have a superstar." 
The story of Dariyae, LAF, and One
Family's Indomitable Hope

Johnnie telling her story at the Luncheon
On Friday, June 17, LAF client Johnnie Brown got up and told the story of her family to over 500 people in a crowded ballroom.  We laughed, we cried, we were moved by the love she and her husband have for their child, and we were proud of the work LAF did to keep them together.  Her speech is below:
Good afternoon to the sponsors of this beautiful event and to all who are present here today.  I am Mrs. Johnnie Brown, a proud parent of Dariaye Watt. I am here to commend Richard Cozzolla and his associates from legal aid for their dedication, sincerity and complete loyalty to me and for me in my plight to adopt my little angel.
She is the light of my life.
When Dariaye came to us she was 13 months old and had been in the hospital since she was born.  My husband Flennard Watts and I were her foster parents.  She had feeding problems, breathing problems, and medical problems. She was on 10 medications and a feeding tube. They told us she would never walk, never talk, not eat like other children, never be a normal child.
We went to the hospital every day before she came to us to learn how to care for her.  We knew about a special clinic at University of Illinois with Dr. Miriam Kalichman.  We transferred her medical care to Dr. Kalichman.  We had nursing care in the home.  We learned how to change her feeding tube and her breathing tube.  I decided she could learn to eat.   I put a bit of baby food on a Q-Tip and she started to lick it off.  One day she opened her mouth and I knew she was ready for a spoon.
By the time she was 3 she was off almost all her medicine.  She was walking.  She was talking.  Soon they took out her feeding tube, and we began to teach her how to eat completely on her own.  The in-home nursing care needed less hours.  We found a great school for her – Wilma Rudolph.
The foster care worker first asked if we wanted to adopt her.  We thought about it and said yes because of the love we had gave her.  Then one day in court, the adoption worker told us we were too old to keep up with her.  She told the judge that on the next court day there would be another home for Dariyae. I left court crying.
We were afraid we would lose our little angel.
We knew about LAF and Danny Davis’s office told us how to get to them.  We talked with Richard and Kim and Lea.  They told us they would let us know if they could take our case.  They didn’t promise anything – and said they had to check out things.  They talked to the workers on the case.  They talked to the people at the school.
LAF said they would help us.  They had a big meeting at the Juvenile Court, with lawyers, and doctors and nurses and social workers. Rich and Kim from LAF asked everyone questions.  The nurses and doctors talked about the good work we had done.  So did the social workers who investigated us.  My play niece Latasha, who works in a Doctor’s office, said she would be our backup person.
DCFS decided we could keep Our little angel and a year later we were able to adopt Dariyae.  Meanwhile LAF helped with Dariyae’s special education and still does.
Now a few things about our angel. She is now 10 years old.  She can walk and talk.  She has been off her G tube for 5 years.  When she was 5 she could read 100 words, and by the time she was 9, she had made too much progress to stay in her special school.  She is now in a neighborhood school with some special services.  She can do math and reading.  Every day she asks my husband if he got the Sun Times, and she reads it to us.  Everybody at the school loves her.  They tell us, “Ms. Brown and Mr. Watts you have a superstar.”
I would like to truly thank LAF from the bottom of my heart for I realize the assistance they provided me truly enabled me to achieve my goal.  Thank you.
Save the Date for LAF's
Seventh Annual Golf Outing 
Join Us at the Harborside International
Golf Center on September 19th!  
Join LAF for its Sixth Annual Golf Outing on the Port Course at the Harborside International Golf Club in Chicago, IL. Harborside International Golf Center has been Chicago's home for golf since 1995. Located only minutes from downtown, Harborside offers the premier golf experience in the Chicagoland area. As the only facility with two of Golfweek's "Best Courses You Can Play in Illinois" and home to the most expansive driving range and practice facility in Northern Illinois, Harborside delivers the best that Chicago has to offer in golf.  Get your tickets and reserve your spot today!
LAF 's Seventh Annual Golf Outing
Monday, September 19, 2016
10:30 Registration - 11:00 Lunch - 12:00 Start
Harborside International Golf Center
11001 South Doty Avenue East, Chicago, IL 
And Don't Forget Your Raffle Tickets!  Our Grand Prize winner will win a week in a private Condo in Maui, $1,000 towards airfare, a free round of golf, and dinner for two!  The Grand Prize Drawing will be held November 2016.  Winners need not be present to win.  
Check out LAF on Social Media!
Follow us on Twitter at @ChicagoLAF, like our Facebook page, catch up with us on Instagram, and read our blog at lafchicago.wordpress.com to keep up with all our work!
Sign up for Monthly Giving!
Pledge your ongoing support to LAF and
make  your recurring gift today!
For the past 50 years, LAF has provided free legal services in non-criminal matters to the poorest and most vulnerable people in our community, ensuring they have the same access to legal services as those who can afford it.  By resolving critical legal problems that systemically trap people in poverty, such as domestic violence, consumer fraud, and unfair evictions, LAF has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals get their lives back on track and given them hope for a brighter future.  We rely on the generous investment of individuals and companies to provide the private support we need to fulfill our mission.  
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