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Forum: Recognizing legal aid for the poor

Updated: November 25, 2013 1:26PM



One of America’s brightest guiding principles has always been, “… and justice for all.” Prairie State Legal Services has been working for more than 30 years to make sure Will County’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens are able to access the justice system.

Sadly, the truth is that approximately one of every 8 Americans is so poor that they are barely able to pay for the basic necessities of life, such as food and shelter. While the poor are entitled to an attorney in criminal cases, they are only able to find help in civil cases through organizations like ours.

Because of the economy, the demand for our services is growing every day. People who were once employed desperately need legal assistance for emergency matters ranging from foreclosure and eviction to utility shutoffs and domestic violence.

Our Pro Bono Project brings together lawyers from our community, who help bridge that “justice gap” by donating hundreds of hours of legal help. Often, the only thing standing between homelessness, violence and abuse for the poor are these volunteer lawyers.

But more help is needed. To educate everyone about the good these volunteers do and to recruit more attorneys to meet growing demands, the week of Oct. 20-26 has been designated National Pro Bono Week to recognize the selfless professionals who provide free legal help to low-income and senior residents of Will County.

For attorneys wanting to find out more about volunteering with The Pro Bono Project, please contact our office at (815) 727-5123. And thank you to those attorneys who have supported the cause for equal justice throughout the past year.

Suzanne Helwich

Pro bono coordinator

Prairie State Legal Services

A Beanie Baby tale

I was prompted by Ty Warner’s legal woes regarding his use of overseas bank accounts to avoid income tax to tell my Beanie Baby story.

I jumped on the Beanie Baby bandwagon in 1996. It was a very expensive adventure that gave me great pleasure. But my dream of turning a profit was squashed by my inability to sell those cute and cuddly little ones.

Once, in my enthusiasm for the Beanie Baby phenomenon, I attempted to draw a picture of a white Beanie Baby Bear with Christmas holly leaves over its entire body. I named the bear Holly and wrote a poem for the tag. I sent everything to Ty, Inc. At that time, I believe others were doing so, too.

I received an email from a public relations person at the company stating that I had added to the clutter on her desk and that Ty Warner designed all the beanies himself.

Ty Warner is a billionaire not only because of his innovation and investments but also because of the many people like myself. I would hope he channeled some of his wealth toward charitable works, especially for children.

Marlene Jeziorski

Oak Lawn



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