Providing Justice For All: LSSP and Legal Aid raise $480,000 for Community

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont (LSSP) and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte (LANC) hosted their 11th annual Justice for All event April 26, at The Westin Charlotte to celebrate those who support justice for all people in our community as part of the organizations’ Access to Justice fundraising campaign.

As Charlotte recognizes the need for systemic changes that enable all residents to find opportunity and stability, almost 500 attendees at the breakfast event heard about how the work of LSSP and LANC is critical to the community’s viability as one third of Mecklenburg County residents do not have access to resources that help them meet their basic needs.

“When access to justice for some is lacking, it is a burden to us all,” said Ken Schorr, LSSP executive director. “We work to make sure that our community’s most vulnerable and underserved have access to the legal help that they need to achieve safety, security and stability.”

Keynote speaker, Toussaint Romain, a Mecklenburg County public defender emphasized the impact of civil legal aid in Charlotte, explaining that as champions for those in need, LSSP and LANC uplift our neighbors who struggle, helping them soar to reach their potential and alleviating burdens on our community.

“These people are about serving,” Romain said. “These are folks we can entrust our resources to. When we as a community serve Legal Services and Legal Aid, they in turn serve the community.”

Attendees also heard from people the organizations helped in the last year whose stories are a testament to the mission LSSP and LANC began 50 years ago in breaking down barriers to access as advocates and defending policies that provide positive outcomes for all people.

“We focus on the most vital needs of folks—their personal safety, their income, health care, shelter, and their right to remain in the United States of America,” Ted Fillette, senior managing attorney at Legal Aid’s Charlotte office, said to applause. “The staff and volunteers of Legal Services and Legal Aid work closely together. Our legal work helps individual clients survive and achieve justice. But, our work does more than that: we improve the ways in which the judicial system and other institutions in the community treat all vulnerable people.”

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Defunding LSC Hurts Our Community

Friends:

The White House Office of Management and Budget released its proposed budget for FY18, which includes defunding the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), departing from the bi-partisan support LSC has received since its founding in 1974. Legal Services of Southern Piedmont does not receive any LSC funding, but strongly opposes any reduction in funding for LSC.

In North Carolina, LSC funding supports LSSP’s Partner in Justice - Legal Aid of North Carolina (LANC). LANC and LSSP work together in Charlotte to provide legal assistance to people in crisis, who are struggling to meet their basic human needs. In most parts of North Carolina, LANC is the only legal services provider for low-income people. We stand with LANC and with everyone who believes that LSC should be fully funded to provide legal advice and representation that helps people achieve economic security and opportunity, family safety and stability and access to health care.

LSC responded to the proposed budget with a statement saying that it is confident that bi-partisan Congressional support will continue. LSSP is optimistic that our lawmakers will continue to provide for crucial access to legal services for those most vulnerable in our society. We hope you will stand with us and others to highlight the importance of civil legal aid to our democracy.

The American Bar Association’s HelpLegalAid.org website offers resources that show you how to be a Legal Aid Defender and prevent defunding LSC.

The President’s proposed FY2018 budget would shred other parts of the safety net for people in need. Specifically, it eliminates or cuts funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program; several federal affordable housing programs; the Community Development Block Grant and the Community Services Block Grant; food and nutrition assistance for seniors, mothers, and children; job-training initiatives within the Department of Labor, the Corporation for National and Community Service; and other key programs. These programs support critical services in our community, to help people facing crises and prevent hunger, homelessness and poverty.

I encourage you to make your voice heard on LSC and these other issues, to preserve the critical role our government plays in preventing hardship for friends and neighbors in our community.

Sincerely,

Kenneth L Schorr
Executive Director

You can support civil legal aid TODAY

  • Contact members of your Congressional delegation in the House of Representatives and Senate and share your concerns on defunding LSC.- Visit DefendLegalAid.org and create a short message for Members of Congress. The American Bar Association (ABA) will print and hand-deliver every message you draft to your representatives.
  • Spread the word, share this action alert with others and participate in the ABA Defend Legal Aid campaign
    - Share your story of why #legalaidhelps and how you are a #legalaiddefender on social media
  • Support the Access to Justice Campaign with a donation that benefits both LSSP and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte. Your gift would help ensure that all people in our community have access to the legal system to meet their needs, not just those who can afford it.

Learn about LSC’s impact on our society

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This is Personal: We Are ALL Immigrants

This piece written by executive director Ken Schorr was originally featured in LSSP’s monthly newsletter.

Immigrants are in the news, many escaping unspeakable dangers in their home countries – horrific gang violence in Central America, civil war in Syria, sectarian and authoritarian violence across the world.

The United States has been, in some times, a beacon of safety and a model of compassion for the world. In other parts of our history, we have shut our eyes, our hearts, and the door to those in need only to realize the cost of our indifference long after the fact.

Unless you are a Native American, you are a descendant of immigrants, as am I. This is my family’s story.

My paternal grandparents Gedalia and Tillie Tschernomoritz, immigrated in 1912 from the Jewish village of Telechan, near Pinsk, then in Poland, now Belarus. The winds of war were approaching and times, always difficult for Jews there, promised to get much worse. Tillie’s uncle, who was already in America, bought them steamship passage on credit, and they arrived without money and in debt. They arrived speaking no English, and became Louis and Tillie Schorr, names pared by the steamship company or a harried immigration officer. Still, they were lucky.

Telechan was devastated by the first World War. Many died, but it was rebuilt. Two decades later, on August 2, 1941, the Nazis rounded up and killed everyone who had returned and obliterated the town. A few of the family that remained escaped to Palestine or survived the concentration camps, most did not.

My maternal grandparents Benjamin and Dora Girszowicz, emigrated in 1931 from Snov, in the Baronovich District, also then Poland, now Belarus. Benjamin felt the war coming, facing persecution by both the Poles and the Bolsheviks of Russia, who arrested him for undermining the revolution. He was held for several days, threatened with execution and then released without explanation. But it was after 1923, and the doors to the U.S. were no longer open to refugees from eastern Europe.

They went to Argentina, the only place he could find to go, and were there for 15 years, carving a farm from the wilderness until they could get to the U.S. My mother grew up in Argentina, her family arriving in the U.S. in 1946 (Her memoir, “”Finding a Place in the World,” is available on Amazon.). Only a few of Benjamin and Dora’s relatives managed to leave Poland before the war. Forty-two members of the family were killed by the Nazis in Snov on February 2, 1941, 76 years ago, this month.

The U.S. has been good to my family who managed to make it here, literally to refuge. Many of those who didn’t were murdered. Those memories from their odyssey still resonate for my family here, where we all work to make an America for others what it was for us: a refuge, a place to be free and to prosper, to live in peace with neighbors and friends of many races, nationalities, and religions.

A country that repudiates the tradition and principle of refuge and sends children and families back to violence and despotic governments they fled is not the America I know and love. I hope we can work together to protect ourselves from the real threats that this country faces with balanced and thoughtful policies that do not renounce the fundamental values of this country of immigrants.

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont helps immigrants in Charlotte and across North and South Carolina every day. We are proud to stand with them, pursuing justice for all people in need, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, religion and political beliefs.

Read LSSP’s statement on Executive Orders regarding immigration policy and their effect on our clients.

Support our work

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LSSP Statement on Recently Issued Executive Orders on Immigration

Last week the White House issued three Executive Orders that gravely concern us at Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, which serves immigrants in Charlotte and throughout North and South Carolina every day.

These orders expand priority deportations of people seeking legal status to include productive and peaceful immigrants, expedite deportation proceedings to deprive people of an opportunity to fairly present their claims, deputize unqualified, untrained and unwilling local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws, direct federal resources to build an unnecessary and ineffective barrier at the U.S.-Mexico border, and prohibit refugee entry from a selection of countries whose residents are predominantly Muslim without considering whether or not they present a risk to the United States. These orders repudiate fundamental values the United States was built upon by those seeking refuge and freedom from their own oppressors.

Abandoning these principles of granting refuge to people in danger, sending children back to gang violence and abusive homes in Central America, and sending families back to civil wars and despotic governments, is not the America we know and love. We ask that policy makers find ways to protect this country from the real threats America faces with thoughtful and balanced policies that do not conflict with the fundamental values of this country established by immigrants.

We believe that these orders threaten constitutional rights to due process under the law in deportation proceedings, the right to representation and the right to defend oneself.

We believe these blanket policies if continued will:

Adversely affect public safety. Immigrant communities have had a historical distrust of law enforcement, though many police departments have spent years developing stronger relationships. These orders roll back any progress that has been made, and with increased fear of deportation, more crimes against immigrants will go unreported without the protections that were once in place, making victims vulnerable targets, especially victims of domestic violence and their children.

Deny basic rights to due process under the law guaranteed by the Constitution through expedited removal. This process removes the option for individuals facing deportation to challenge their case in court and overrides pending court cases.

Result in broad racial profiling with local police departments being required to inquire about a person’s status and to report any names of undocumented people recorded during routine traffic stops on a weekly basis.

Cause the forced separation of families through deportation and through barred entry into the country. Not all family members have the same immigration status. In many instances, adults in families are undocumented, but their children are U.S. citizens.

Adversely impact the local economy. All immigrants, with or without legal status, pay taxes and contribute to a social safety net they will never reap benefits from. Expanded deportations remove those who have bought homes, opened small businesses, paid taxes and contributed to our community.

Further strain backlogged immigration court systems and other legal resources for immigrants in our community.

This is both a constitutional and a moral issue, returning people seeking refuge to the dangerous and violent situations from which they fled instead of helping them find safety and a better life. Under these orders, the U.S. is no longer a “shining city on a hill,” no longer a beacon to people throughout the world who seek the rights and freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy.

LSSP’s mission is to pursue justice for those in need. That mission extends to all people regardless of ethnicity, national origin, religion or political beliefs. LSSP is proud to stand with and advocate for our immigrant and refugee communities, in opposition to these Executive Orders.

Support our work

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2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll

Pro Bono Announcement Template Header2016 Pro Bono Honor Roll

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Legal Services of Southern Piedmont and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2016.

Congratulations and thank you to the dedicated legal professionals listed below. Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies provide access to justice to low-income clients in our community.

* Attorneys who have fulfilled the requirements of NC Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and have completed 50 or more hours of pro bono service this year

Jeffrey W. Aldrich

Stephen D. Allred*

A. Carter Arey*

Andrew David Atkins

Keith F. Atkinson

Neil T. Bloomfield

William B. Butler*

Rocky Mamerto Cabagnot*

John H. Capitano

Jon P. Carroll

Caitlin A. Carson

Ronald Charlot-Aviles*

Kimberly Nicole Cochran*

Glenda F. Coleman

Clay Reid Costner

Casey Leanne Couch

Lisa Marie Crandall

Matthew H. Crow*

Heather W. Culp*

Kevin Louis Denny

Jessica Camille Dixon

Kathleen H. Dooley*

Courtney Michelle Duncil*

Jonathan Ashley Ellis*

Jason D. Evans

Douglas W. Ey, Jr.

Jeffrey Ryan Favitta

John C. Fennebresque

Christopher J. Fernandez*

Jennifer Lynn Fleet

Christopher Thomas Fowler

Gonzalo E. Frias

Kaylan Marie Gaudio

Timothy W. Gilbert

Kimberly A. Gossage

Joshua K. Green

James E. Gronquist*

Alton L. Gwaltney, III

Robert J. Hahn*

Nicole Katherine Haynes

Mark P. Henriques*

Johan Alejandro Hernandez

James E. Hickmon*

Christopher A. Hicks

Sara S. Holderness

Thomas P. Holderness*

Katherine S. Holliday

Jennifer Michelle Houti

Sarah Fulton Hutchins

Travis James Iams

Elizabeth Jeanne Ireland

Donna J. Jackson

David H. Jones

Stephen W. Kearney

Matthew Sean Kelly

Deja Dorothy Kemp*

Kristen J. Kenley

Glenn E. Ketner III

Katherine Kliebert*

Bradley R. Kutrow*

Rene Jean LeBlanc-Allman

Jennifer M. Lechner*

Anne S. Leggett

Timothy P. Lendino*

Howard M. Lintz*

Hannah Faith Little

Andrew Francis Lopez

Carlos Andres Lopez

Catherine Lafferty Magennis

Robert William Manoso*

Jasmine C. Marchant*

Michael Leon Martinez*

Emily Claire McGowan

Thomas E. McNeill*

Samuel Clinton Merritt

Eric William Mills

Elizabeth Ann Murphy*

Lara S. Nichols

My T. Ngo

Nikolas Rafael Ortega

Brian Patrick O’Shaughnessy*

Fred P. Parker, IV

Andrew Rhys Parrish

Fern Ann Paterson

Amanda Rae Pickens*

Stuart Logan Pratt

Nader S. Raja

Gary Lee Redwine

Michelle Donahue Robinson*

Brent A. Rosser*

Frank E. Schall

Marie C.  Shea*

Ella-Marie Smith

Benjamin A. Snyder

Brian A. Soja

Michelle Lynn Stalnaker

Larissa Bixler Stein

William Todd Stillerman

Edward Taylor Stukes

Susan C. Tarnower*

Michelle R. Thompson

Joseph Trunzo*

Scott P. Vaughn

Ann Lee Warren*

Lisa Jan Wielunski*

John R. Wester*

Nicholas F. Wilson

Landis L. Wood

Angela H. Zimmern*

Erik R. Zimmerman*

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There’s No Place Like Home

picket-letter-fade-quoteWhen Debra Pickett’s husband, Gregory, passed away in 2011, she was devastated. She says she “didn’t know [her] head from [her] feet,” of that period. Through her grief, Pickett sought to move forward, getting used to life without her husband.

Six months later, Pickett learned that the bank where her husband had previously set up a reverse mortgage on their home was trying to assume ownership of the house now that her husband, the owner, had died.

A reverse mortgage is a home loan for older homeowners that allows them to convert the equity in their homes to cash and requires no monthly mortgage payments, though the borrower remains responsible for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. The bank makes payments to the borrower, and the borrower is not required to pay back the loan until the home is sold or vacated.

Pickett was shocked when she was served with eviction notices.

debra_pickett_092816_001To her, that house was more than shelter. It offered her stability and comfort with all of the memories housed from 10 happy years of marriage shared with her husband.

Pickett, a woman of faith, believes God had a hand in leading her to Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. She remembers going to the courthouse to attempt to sort out the situation herself, after being told by the Veteran’s Administration, which had been handling her husband’s benefits, that there was nothing she could do to remain in her home. Feeling confused, scared and frustrated with her situation, she began to cry.

A courthouse employee handed Pickett a piece of paper with three names written on it and suggested she seek help. Karen Moscowitz, director of consumer protection at LSSP, was one of those names, and she answered Pickett’s call. Pickett didn’t know what to expect on the other end of the line, but she was desperate. She had been trying to find a part-time job to make ends meet.

Read a letter Pickett sent LSSP executive director Ken Schorr.

“When I went to Karen, I didn’t have a penny in my pocket,” Pickett says. “[Karen] said, ‘I don’t know what the outcome will be or how long it will take, but if you would be patient enough, I’ll try to see what the end result will be.’”

Patience was necessary. Over three years, Moscowitz went back and forth with the bank, meeting with Pickett every two months for updates. During that time, Pickett continued to pay taxes and insurance on the home, and the bank continued to charge her for loan repayment.

“She was always professional, always a sweet lady,” Pickett says of Moscowitz. “She’s been a jewel for me.”

In the summer of 2016, Pickett finally received the message she had been praying for – an email from Moscowitz saying that Pickett could remain in her home and that the bank would repay the money it had charged.

“I was ecstatic,” she says.

A few months later, Pickett finds herself sitting in her living room, the television in the kitchen on in the background, surrounded by photos of her and her husband over the years. She is at peace.

She points to the front door.

“When I come in that door, I’m in my sanctuary,” Pickett says. “It is my home. I thank God that I can continue living here.”

Legal Services of Southern Piedmont helps clients like Debra Pickett find stability and safety every day. With your continued support, LSSP can serve those who are vulnerable in our community and need free legal services to remain in their homes, with access to the safety, benefits, healthcare and, ultimately, the justice they are entitled to receive.

Your gift to the Access to Justice Campaign allows more people living on the edge of poverty to find safety and economic stability and to live healthy, productive lives.

Be a leader by supporting Access to Justice in your community today.

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After the 2016 elections, LSSP Reaffirms Its Commitment

Friends,
The 2016 Election results were surprising to many of us. In this time of transition, LSSP will continue the work we have done in Charlotte since 1967 – being a voice for the voiceless in the legal system, securing basic human needs, and advocating for policies that provide positive outcomes for all.
We hope that this new administration will make decisions after careful consideration of policies that shape our social safety net and protect our clients and the most vulnerable people in our community.
The newly elected president, Congress and our state government have presented a picture of sweeping reforms that, if enacted, would harm thousands of people in our community. Changes would impact the
  • Benefits to individuals accessing healthcare through Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act;
  • Financial stability for veterans and the low-income community through public benefits;
  • Security and stability of our immigrant communities; and
  • Affordability of housing.
The work we do to protect access to these programs and more is crucial to the vitality of our city, state and country now more than ever. Restricting or eliminating these programs would place more stress on the public resources that are already in high demand in Mecklenburg County.
We hope that policy makers at local, state and national levels will consider the severe impact their decisions could have on their constituents that Legal Services of Southern Piedmont serves every day.
People who seek our assistance have no right to an attorney in civil legal matters, even when basic human needs such as economic security and opportunity, family safety and stability, and access to healthcare are at stake. While meeting the needs for our clients may become more difficult in the coming years, we will continue to pursue justice for those in need.

Thank you for your continued support.
Ken Schorr
Executive Director
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Pro Bono Spotlight: Bambi Lohr

bambi_lohr_duke_energy_quoteBambi Lohr is a senior paralegal at Duke Energy Corporation, working in the litigation department. Since joining Duke Energy in 2010, Lohr has made pro bono work an integral part of her job. Lohr has worked on immigration cases, expunctions, and preparation of simple estate planning documents. Most recently, Lohr worked on a “children crossing borders” immigration case with LSSP, which led to her first immigration client being granted permanent custody of her minor daughter. Lohr is one of six individuals and three law firms recognized as 2016’s Pro Bono Award recipients.

When did you begin working on pro bono cases with LSSP?

I first started working with LSSP in 2010 and 2011. Duke Energy previously had not put a lot of time into a pro bono program. It wasn’t until 2010 that they started to formulate a pro bono effort for the legal department company-wide.

Why did you choose to start doing pro bono work?

It was something I was interested in doing. It was just going out and finding things we could do to help the community. I had worked in law firms in the past, and yes, we talked about pro bono, but I wasn’t that involved. The emphasis was on attorneys. Here, I have a part to play.

You’ve given a lot of time to the Access to Pro Bono Partners Program as a paralegal. Do paralegals have the same professional responsibility to volunteer as attorneys?

Paralegals have the same guidelines. We’re held to that same standard, but when you’re in a firm, pro bono tends to be pushed on the attorneys. It’s more inclusive here at Duke. It’s not just attorneys held to account. Everyone is expected to play a part.

How does pro bono differ from other forms of volunteer work?

I have always been drawn to this work because I feel like I’m actually making a difference here. I’ve done estate planning for over 13 years. One of the first events I volunteered at was called “Wills for Heroes,” for emergency services personnel. It was so rewarding. There are folks that need this service, and it’s free. You just walk away thinking how great that is. In this line of work, you see that impact of having those documents prepared.

What made you decide to take on a pro bono child custody immigration case?

I wanted to challenge myself. Immigration is not a simple form. There are processes, court dates, steps that you must follow. You’re very engaged with the client. It wasn’t until LSSP asked me to get involved did I realize the impact I was making. When I met Genesis, I realized she is the same age as my son. It’s a whole world you can’t grasp until you walk in their shoes.

The first one, you sit down and think, ‘Oh my gosh, how many do we need to help?’ I would tell anyone don’t shy away from it. You realize how helpful you can be once you get into it.

picture-of-timika-ann-and-pro-bono-clients-08-19-16-crop

Genesis and her mother (center) with their pro bono attorneys Timika Shafeek-Horton and Ann Warren, of Duke Energy.

The day were finally able to help her mother get custody – that was an emotional day for everyone. Genesis was finally safe with her mother. That was extremely rewarding.

I still keep up with the family. I have their next court date later this month on my radar. That’s the next big step. I have stayed in contact even though my part is finished, but until you get that “OK” from an immigration judge can you say, “She’s safe.” Genesis came when she was 9, and two years later, here we are.

What current pro bono projects are you working on?

I just finished up helping with the Wills for Seniors event two weeks ago, and I am currently working on my second child custody immigration case.

What advice would you give to someone considering getting involved in the Access to Justice Pro Bono Program?

It can be challenging to find something that fits a niche you are comfortable with, but it can be done. But also, dip a toe in and try something different, like immigration, that’s out of your comfort zone. Then anything else that comes your way you know you can handle.

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Navigating the Gap: Tim Messenger

lssp-medicaid-gap-tim-messenger-2

 ***UPDATED Nov. 30, 2016***

When we first met Tim last spring, he was struggling in the Medicaid gap like 300,000 other N.C. residents. He had no income, and he couldn’t qualify for health care through Medicaid because he had no children or qualifying disabilities.

Because he spent years without access to preventative care that could have managed his Type 2 Diabetes, Tim’s eyesight has deteriorated enough for him to demonstrate that he has a disability, and he qualified for Social Security disability benefits this fall.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he was able to use his Social Security income to apply for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and receive a tim-messenger-acasubsidy. Before the ACA, people like Tim found themselves in a different gap — living month-to-month on a tiny Social Security check with few other options for support.

Yesterday, a LSSP health insurance navigator helped Tim enroll in a plan with a premium that costs $30.42 a month and includes coverage for his ophthalmologist to perform a necessary surgery on his eyes. He also signed up for a dental plan.

Your support of the work LSSP does makes these tangible impacts on people’s lives possible.

During a time when the future of our country’s healthcare system is uncertain, people like Tim, who have already spent years struggling to access health care, are more vulnerable now than ever. Access to coverage matters. LSSP is committed to helping people like Tim and will continue to advocate for policies that enable them to receive the care they need.

************************************************

For most of his adult life, Tim Messenger worked in operations management and hademployer-provided health insurance, but in January 2014, Tim was laid off from his position as inventory manager.

The same week he was laid off, Tim’s mortgage company notified him that they were not going to continue working with him and his now ex-wife as they were trying to sell their house as part of a divorce. His neighborhood property values had been hit hard by the recession and, after 20 years of house payments, his property value was half the initial purchase price.

Tim also began to lose weight, but given the stress of losing his job, going through a divorce and trying to sell his home, he didn’t think much of it. He also began to notice trouble with his vision, but he couldn’t afford to see a doctor.

“I knew it was more serious than needing new glasses,” Tim says.

Promising job prospects with benefits did not materialize; Tim’s unemployment benefits ran out, and he found himself relying on the goodwill of friends and family for a place to stay, but by February 2015, Tim was living out of his van, looking for work by day and trying to find a safe place to park at night and sleep a few hours at a time.

“I was pursuing jobs and thought health insurance was right around the corner, and it never panned out,” Tim says.

“You fall into a survival mode,” he says of that period.

His eyesight continued to get worse until it ultimately caused him to have two car accidents in 2015, one in May, the other in July, which totaled his van.

Those accidents were a turning point for Tim.

A visit to the Bethesda Health Center, a free clinic in Mecklenburg County operating in part with the Camino Community Center, led to an appointment with a retina specialist along with the unexpected diagnosis that Tim had Type 2 Diabetes.  The clinic connected him with the N.C. Division of Services for the Blind, who covered laser surgery on his retina.  His recovery has been hampered by complications requiring repeated injections in his eyes, while his eye condition and inability to heal has been exacerbated by poor circulation resulting from diabetes.

“I just figured that after four to five months, things would be relatively back to normal,” he says. “Now it’s been almost a year.”

Tim had fallen prey to a situation that is far too common for middle-aged, single men, with low or no income.  Victims of an economic downturn and unemployment beyond their control, financial stability slips away and untreated health problems can quickly turn into complex and irreversible illnesses with life-changing ramifications. With preventative care and earlier diagnoses of his ailments, he may have been able to avoid the auto accidents and surgery and managed his diabetes so that he could continue to work and take care of his needs.

Tim has tried to get on with his life by looking for work. His previous jobs required a high degree of physical activity, but nerve damage resulting from diabetes and injuries suffered from the car accidents prevent him from seeking the same type of work.  Also, with his diminished vision, he can’t see a computer screen to search and apply for jobs online.

Tim, a man of faith, believes that everything happens for a reason. Friends from his church, Camino Church, became concerned and offered him a place to stay in May 2015. For the last year, he has relied on the church’s support, and he has been volunteering in the Camino Thrift Store, applying his background in retail to help where he can.

Last spring a health insurance navigator from Legal Services of Southern Piedmont working at Bethesda helped Tim apply for Medicaid, and in July, he applied for Social Security Disability benefits, which he recently learned he was qualified to receive.

Before this news, Tim was one of 300,000 people in North Carolina who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap, ineligible for Medicaid because he had no children or qualifying disabilities and he earned too little to qualify for tax credits that would help him afford insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Tim’s qualification for disability benefits was a huge hurdle to clear because proof of having a disability is often a difficult, long process. But because Tim has spent the last two years in the Medicaid gap, his health has deteriorated enough for him to demonstrate that he clearly has a disability.

If he had been able to access both the preventative and immediate care he needed in the first place through Medicaid coverage, Tim would have his eyesight and be in better health. He could have been looking for another job instead of trying to piece together care he needed.

Qualifying for disability benefits makes him ineligible to qualify for Medicaid now, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), he now has the option to apply for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Prior to the ACA, people like Tim found themselves in a different gap — living month-to-month on a tiny social security check with few other options for support.

With what seems like a fresh start ahead of him, Tim is hopeful that he will eventually be able to regain his eyesight with the right treatment. He still wants to find a job and get his own place where he can live independently again. He also hopes to use his experience to help others keep going when life takes an unfortunate turn.

“God allows you to go through things for a reason,” he says. “So you can help others go through it.”

Read more about Tim’s story in this Charlotte Observer article to see how his situation fits into the greater context of Medicaid expansion, as well as the upcoming election Nov. 8.

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LSSP Wants You to Know Your Rights: VOTE 11.08.2016!

There’s been a few changes regarding how to vote in this year’s general election being held Nov. 8. Find out what you need (and don’t need, like a photo ID) before heading to the polls on Election Day.

Key Dates:

Oct. 14: Deadline for registering to vote in 2016 election. Voter registration must by postmarked by this date. Learn how to register here

Oct. 20: Early voting begins. Same-day registration to vote is only available during early voting. Find a polling place here

Nov. 5: Early voting ends.

Nov. 8: General Election Day

2016 Voting Information

Benefits of Early Voting

Voting Tips

NC Voter’s Bill of Rights

Check your registration status, polling place, local ballot, early voting locations and more at www.ncvoter.org

Como Votar en Carolina del Norte

Additional questions? Call the toll free Election Protection hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE (888-687-8683)

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