Jovanda C. Spain

The Project

The Elder Abuse Prevention Project provides high quality legal services to elders who have been victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation in the Greater Boston area.

The Project was dedicated to ensuring that older adults in the greater Boston area live free from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Many older adults living in Massachusetts are vulnerable due to isolation, physical and/or mental impairments, and dependence on others, especially family members. This vulnerability makes them easy targets for physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect, financial exploitation, and fraud. The project was designed to provide legal representation to elders to ensure that they have the income, health care and services that they need to live independently in the community. Jovanda’s work promoted affordable housing for seniors, access to quality health care, Social Security or SSI income.

Fellowship Highlights

The project has been successful in the preservation of housing for elders by defending against evictions from public and subsidized housing. It has ensured economic security for elders through the provision of Social Security/SSI benefits to uplift elders out of poverty. It has been effective in strengthening access to health care for elders in order that their right to quality affordable health care becomes a reality.

Next Steps

Jovanda hopes to begin a career in legal services and work to defend and preserve the rights of low-income people who face injustices. Her interest in wanting to be an advocate for the community is simple; she wants to make a difference in people’s lives and enable them to achieve what would otherwise not be possible.

The Project

Calissa provided direct legal representation and support to residents of Baltimore City, aged 60 and over, who were victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Calissa provided high quality legal services to low-income older adults who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. In addition to providing direct legal representation to victims, Calissa helped to create a network of lawyers dedicated to elder justice issues and bringing greater public awareness about elder abuse. Calissa’s work through this project gave a voice to senior victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

Fellowship Highlights

Over the course of a year, Calissa was able to assist several clients with elder justice issues including stopping ongoing physical and psychological abuse, recovering funds that seniors lost due to financial exploitation, and assisting seniors with advanced planning to stop ongoing abuse and prevent future abuse.

Next Steps

Calissa is now a Staff Attorney at Senior Legal Services where she continues to assist low-income older adults with their civil legal needs.

 

The Project

As an Employment Opportunity Legal Corps Fellow, Ventura provided legal assistance to individuals with legal barriers to employment, such as expunging eligible criminal records and reinstating driving licenses.

What’s Next?

After her Fellowship, Ventura became a staff attorney at her host organization, Greater Boston Legal Services, where she provides critical legal advice and representation to low-income individuals.

Media

Ventura Dennis (’13) receives Outstanding Young Lawyers Award

The Project

Bernadette E. Valdellon was an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP), where she assisted veterans in obtaining disability benefits related to their military service through NVLSP’s Lawyers Serving Warriors program.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Bernadette:

  • Analyzed military and personnel records of veterans requesting assistance with discharge upgrades, wrongful personality disorder discharges, and disability benefits for diseases related to Agent Orange exposure.
  • Drafted legal memoranda and supervised pro bono attorneys assisting with the discharge review process.

What’s Next?

After her Fellowship, Bernadette became a staff attorney at NVLSP for two years. In this position, she managed a national pro bono program providing representation to almost 100 veterans seeking disability benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs for mental conditions related to sexual trauma experienced in service. Now, she is an associate at Victor M. Glasberg & Associates.

The Project

Lonnie’s project seeks to ensure equal justice to low-income veterans and military families with legal issues.

As a Fellow, Lonnie will:

  • Conduct educational outreach
  • Provide legal aid clinics
  • Attend housing court

The Inspiration

Lonnie is a veteran who lives with minimal means while supporting two children.

The Project

Cassandra provides civil litigation services to low-income veterans and their families.

As a Fellow, Cassandra will:

  • Administer know your rights presentations
  • Conduct clinics
  • Attend stand-downs
  • Educate providers

The Inspiration

“I am in the military myself. I relate to many of the veterans. The veteran community is family to me,” Cassandra says.

The Project

Tiffanie will assist in VA and military hearings and work with students in the legal clinic in order to aid financially eligible veterans and their families.

As a Fellow, Tiffanie will:

  • Do outreach
  • Perform client intake
  • Assemble evidence
  • Conduct interviews
  • Research relevant law

The Inspiration

Tiffanie is a veteran interested in giving back to her community.

The Project

Liz works with veterans to resolve legal issues such as family law, housing, and VA benefits issues.

As a Fellow, Liz will:

  • Provide legal representation to veterans
  • Run legal clinics
  • Develop a medical-legal partnership
  • Participate in community engagement

The Inspiration

“Our veterans and their families deserve much support, and this fellowship allows me to contribute,” Liz says.

The Project

Veterans continue to experience drastically high rates of homelessness, poverty, and suicide. Patrick aimed to address this by providing free legal services to veterans, and collaborated with the Veterans Administration to find veterans in need of legal assistance.

The Project

John’s Fellowship seeks to address any civil legal issue that impacts the veteran community in the state of Oklahoma. These issues include housing, family law, bankruptcy, consumer protection, veteran’s benefits, and other various issues that affect the livelihood of these selfless individuals. He also aims to assist the most underserved members of the more than 300,000 veterans who currently reside in Oklahoma.

Fellowship Plans

As a Fellow, John will:

  • Facilitate a legal clinic for veterans at the VA Medical Center located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Facilitate a legal clinic for veterans at the Dale K. Graham Veterans Foundation located in Norman, Oklahoma
  • Recruit law students at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, the University of Tulsa College of Law, and the Oklahoma City University School of Law to assist veterans with the application process for legal services
  • Create advertisements to be placed online and in traditional print publications in order to inform members of the public about the legal services currently available to veterans in Oklahoma

The opportunity to provide legal representation to the brave men and women who have placed their lives on the line for my freedom is one that I certainly do not take for granted. I also have a genuine passion for this work as I enjoy helping others in need. Further, representing the Veteran community in Oklahoma is particularly meaningful to me because of my family’s extensive history of military service.

John Austin /
Equal Justice Works Fellow