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Legal Aid announced expansion efforts at annual meeting today

Posted November 19, 2018
7:30 am

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland to announce expansion efforts at annual meeting.
Event features Gov. Deval Patrick as keynote speaker;
honors The MetroHealth System, other community partners.

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, one of the largest and most well-known legal aid programs in the U.S., will share details of its planned growth at the organization’s 113th Annual Meeting on Monday, November 19 at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown.

Legal Aid’s counsel is needed now more than ever as Northeast Ohio struggles with multi-generational poverty that holds back the region and its residents. Civil legal counsel is proven to foster fairness, empower individuals and eliminate many of the barriers that block families living in poverty from financial stability and greater engagement in their communities.

The single biggest obstacle to Legal Aid playing a greater role in the community’s solutions to systemic poverty is having the financial resources to reach more families when and where they need civil legal counsel.

On November 19, Legal Aid’s executive director Colleen Cotter and board president Karen Giffen will share an update on Legal Aid’s work in the past year and explain The Campaign for Legal Aid – a comprehensive five-year effort to raise the resources needed to grow and sustain proven programs and build new opportunities for serving families living in poverty.

In addition to the expansion announcement, The Honorable Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts, is the keynote speaker.  Gov. Patrick has a deep history with civil legal services and will comment on the ripple effect of legal aid and how promotion of this work is a community-wide responsibility and role.

Also, in a surprise announcement at the event - Dee Haslam leads a team of individual donors in a challenge to the community: make a gift to Legal Aid by December 1 and it will be matched 1-to-1 to support Legal Aid’s high-impact programs.  Dee and her husband Jim were recently named chairs of the NFL’s social justice committee.  For more details, visit

Finally, The MetroHealth System will be honored with the Louis Stokes Paragon Award, the highest honor given by Legal Aid.  President and CEO of MetroHealth Akram Boutros will accept the award on behalf of the health system.

More than 15 years ago, Legal Aid approached The MetroHealth System to begin a medical-legal partnership to improve health outcomes for low-income children in Metro’s pediatrics practice. The MetroHealth System immediately saw the importance of legal services integrated into the health care setting. Soon, the partnership expanded with support from MetroHealth to serve other vulnerable individuals and families including more children, pregnant women, Spanish-speakers, immigrants, the elderly, and formerly incarcerated people. Today, Legal Aid is integrated into the medical practice at MetroHealth’s main campus and numerous locations. MetroHealth was the pioneer: as of this year, Legal Aid is also embedded at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and University Hospitals.

1,000 people will attend the luncheon which is sponsored by more than 60 corporations, law firms and other organizations.

Contact: Melanie Shakarian, Esq., @LegalAidCLE, or 216-215-0074 (mobile)

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