Tidbits and Thoughts . . .  Legal Aid's Online  News
April 13, 2016

Bank of Hawaii volunteer Lily Shao helps a client in our Honolulu office file his taxes.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program  has been a valuable resource for our community in providing free tax help to income qualified individuals. This year, volunteers have helped over 2,100 people file their taxes and receive nearly $900,000 in state and federal refunds.

Also, because Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in Washington D.C. and is observed this year by public employees on Friday, April 15; the I.R.S. has pushed the tax deadline to Monday, April 18.

"Building a Just Society"
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April is Fair Housing month!

The Legal Aid Society of Hawai'i's  Fair Housing Enforcement Program is commemorating Fair Housing month with numerous trainings and presentations across the state. Visit the Fair Housing website for more information. Click here.

Legal Aid's executive director,  M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina joins Hawaii Governor David Ige in his proclamation celebrating April as Fair Housing month. 

Staff members from Legal Aid's Fair Housing Enforcement Program join Honolulu Deputy Managing Director    Georgette T Deemer in the city's proclamation recognizing April as Fair Housing month. Ms. Deemer recounted her experience as a young child in Oklahoma going with her father and the difficulty they faced searching for a place willing to rent to their family.  Back: (L-R) Dan O'Meara (Asset Protection Managing Attorney), Britta Johnson (Fair Housing Outreach Specialist), Shea Henson (Fair Housing Civil Rights Advocate), Christilei Hessler (Fair Housing Staff Attorney). Front: (L-R) Marissa Okazaki (Fair Housing Investigation Coordinator), Maddona Castro-Perez (Fair Housing Civil Rights Advocate), Georgette Deemer, M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina (Legal Aid Executive Director), Reyna Ramolete Hayashi (Fair Housing Staff Attorney).

 Fair Housing Art Contest winner Abigail Jones

Fair Housing Enforcement Program
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
924 Bethel Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Madonna Castro Perez, 
I Pausila A., writing on the behalf of my daughter Tiffany A. We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation for your support and representing her case . . . . 
We had a meeting with the housing assistant manager and she granted me a Reasonable Accommodation Request and not to proceed the eviction against my daughter Tiffany. 
We just wanted to formally thank you very much from the bottom of our hearts for all the hard work and you go above and beyond to resolve her legal issues and protect her disability rights to keep her housing assistance. 
We would like to let you know that, we are completetly satisfied with the decision you made. She gets to keep and enjoy her apartment unit. 
Pausila A. 

"I was kicked out of my home by my husband. I had no money, no job, and no car. So I filed for divorce and he got himself a lawyer. His lawyer drew up the decree for both of us to sign and then submitted it to the court. My divorce was denied due to the child support guidelines. His lawyer revised the decree and stapled my signature from the previous decree to the the revised one. I took it to the courthouse and they told me to fill out more forms and bring it back but I was clueless, I left the courthouse anxious and scared. I wasn't only fighting my husband in court, I was fighting his lawyer too. I had no knowledge of a contested divorce. That's when I decided to call Legal Aid to help me. 

They filled out all the necessary forms I needed for court and assisted me while I was at the courthouse when I didn't know what was going on with my husband's lawyer. Makia [Minerbi, Windward Oahu staff attorney]  answered all my phone calls and walked me through whatever I needed to do. It was literally like I had an angel by my side. I have been served several times with documents from my husband's lawyer and he caught every single mistake that would've cost me everything. Legal Aid gave me the knowledge, the courage, and the confidence that I needed to fight this divorce case.

I am no longer afraid or alone. I now have the knowledge and confidence to do what I have to do, with the best support that I really needed. I was so lost before Legal Aid, I had no idea how badly I would have messed up my case without their help. 

I am extremely lucky and grateful to have had Legal Aid by my side. They are honest, fair, and they know the law."
"Know Your Rights"

Kona Legal Aid staff attorney Charles McCreary and AmeriCorps advocate Heather Basham provided a "Know Your Rights" presentation on landlord tenant law to over 30 participants at the Kona Public Library. Public libraries accross the state continue to be a key partner in helping increase access to justice in the community.
Staff Highlight

Legal Aid's Fair Housing Enforcement Program welcomes  Marissa Okazaki as the newest member of the unit. 

What were you doing before Legal Aid? 
Before Legal Aid I was doing a post-grad summer fellowship at a grassroots, multi-racial organization called VAYLA-New Orleans.
Just graduated from Scripps College last year.
Legal Aid information videos coming soon!

Coming to Legal Aid's YouTube channel this spring. 

Adoption, Guardianship, and Power of Attorney
Adoption, Guardianship, and Power of Attorney

Legal Aid Executive Director honored by Hawaii Business as part of 20 for the Next 20
Legal Aid's board president Jodi Shin Yamamoto and Legal Aid staff members  Angela Lovitt and Destiny Brown joined Gov. David Ige in congratulating Nalani and the other honorees.

Last month, Hawaii Business Magazine recognized Legal Aid's Executive Director, M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina as part of its 20 for the Next 20. The magazine recognized 20 distinguished leaders poised to influence and significantly impact Hawaii for the coming decade. Click to read the full story