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

This project addressed 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 people 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 past two years Gelila has:

  • Provided full representation to 43 seniors on elder law and public benefits issues, like guardianships, estate planning, Medicaid and Medicare appeals, improper nursing home discharges, and Social Security appeals, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits recovered
  • Provided advice, brief service, or referrals to an additional 32 seniors
  • Developed a case referral system with Adult Protective Services and maintained partnerships with local aging network partners to identify potential abuse, exploitation, and neglect cases
  • Gave 8 presentations to local community groups on financial scams and health care benefits, reaching nearly 200 seniors

Next Steps

Now that her Fellowship is complete, Gelila plans to continue her work at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy as a staff attorney working on public benefits issues in the Family Support and Health Care Unit.

Meet Other Fellows Like Gelila

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Sean Burke

Host: Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis

Sponsor: Family of Hyman Edelman, Leonard, Street and Deinard

Abigail Pound

Host: Pro Seniors, Inc.

Sponsor: Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation

Eleanor Cashmore

Host: Greater Boston Legal Services

Sponsor: Biogen, Foley Hoag LLP

Eric Charette

Host: Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc.

Sponsor: AmeriCorps, U.S. Department of Justice - Office for Victims of Crime, Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc., MetLife Foundation, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation