Photo of Gelila Selassie

Gelila Selassie

  • Hosted by Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy
  • Sponsored by Pfizer, Inc.
  • Service location Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Law school Wake Forest University School of Law
  • Issue area Elderly
  • Fellowship class year 2017
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Gelila promotes elder care and prevents elder abuse for low-income seniors by increasing access to health care and legal services.

This project addresses the growing needs of elderly North Carolinians. Approximately 27% of seniors statewide live near or below the federal poverty level with those figures expected to increase as more North Carolinians enter retirement age. These low-income seniors are eligible for a variety of healthcare and disability services, but face several barriers due to physical, mental, and social limitations. Elderly immigrants face additional barriers to services due to limited English proficiency and general confusion regarding domestic healthcare programs. As a result, seniors are unable to access crucial services which could greatly improve their health and well-being. The absence of these services makes poor seniors highly susceptible to exploitation and abuse.

Fellowship Highlights

In the first year, Gelila has:

  • Provided full representation for 27 clients on various health care and elder law issues;
  • Assessed elder care needs that are not currently being addressed in the Charlotte area;
  • Established a direct referral system with adult protective services;
  • Began developing an interagency collaborative focused on combating elder abuse; and
  • Partnered with several senior health and wellness organizations and presented on various elder law issues.

Next Steps

In the next year, Gelila plans to:

  • Create a senior care guide highlighting different resources available to seniors in collaboration with local non-profits;
  • Review and assess elder abuse cases in Mecklenburg County with interagency collaborative;
  • Further pro bono network of attorneys and develop CLEs on various healthcare and elder abuse issues; and
  • Continue working with partners statewide on systemic issues concerning senior’s healthcare.

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Host: Greater Boston Legal Services

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Samantha Sepehr

Host: John F. Kennedy University Elder Law Clinic

Sponsor: Contra Costa County Bar Association

Olga Porven

Host: University of Miami School of Law

Sponsor: Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Jarrett Knox

Host: Legal Aid Bureau of Metropolitan Family Services

Sponsor: The Chicago Bar Foundation