Tidbits and Thoughts . . .  Legal Aid's Online  News
July 14, 2017

Fairness and justice for all is something we can all believe in!

Mahalo to all those that supported the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii phone-a-thon by volunteering or making a donation.  Legal Aid raised over $11,000 with the support of alumni, family, and friends. 
Connie Liu , Madonna Castro Perez , and former Legal Aid Board President Susan Ichinose  helped contact 
Legal Aid alumni and supporters d uring the phone-a-thon.

"Building a Just Society"
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LSC's New Justice Gap Report:  86% of the Civil Legal Problems Reported by Low-Income Americans Receive Inadequate or No Legal Help

"The bottom line: We are not fulfilling our nation's solemn pledge of 'justice for all.'" -LSC President James J. Sandman.

The need for basic civil legal assistance for people who cannot afford to pay for it is overwhelming. 71% of low-income households in the country experienced at least one civil legal problem in the past year.
One in four low-income households experienced six or more civil legal problems, including 67% of households with survivors of domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Last year, 86% of the civil legal problems reported by low-income Americans received inadequate or no legal help at all. These problems included critical issues such as veterans' benefits, domestic violence, disability access, housing conditions, and health care.
Hawaii Access to Justice Conference 2017

With the theme of "Fulfilling the Promise of Equal Justice" the 2017 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference featured Dean Kellye Testy of the University of Washington Law School. Dean Testy is a nationally recognized advocate for access, diversity, and innovation in the law and will soon serve as the President of the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). 

Many of the state's legal service providers and HSBA committees shared more about the current work being done to provide greater access to justice for the community. Legal Aid's Executive Director, M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina was part of a panel discussion on "Initiatives for Civil Access to Justice" to discuss court innovations, strategies to engage lawyers for pro bono work, updates from legal service providers, and community lawyering. 

Legal Aid Executive Director M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina was part of a panel discussion with  Christina Aiu, Judge Joseph Cardoza, and Judge Ronald Ibarra on "Initiatives for Civil Access to Justice." (Photo: Spencer Kimura, WSRSL)

AmeriCorps Advocate Cynthia Cuestas and Sergio Alcubilla provide information about Legal Aid to conference participants. (Photo: Spencer Kimura, WSRSL)

Civil Beat article highlights importance of providing civil legal services 

Legislature Cut Every Penny For Free Or Low-Cost Legal Services
By Emily Cardinali / July 7, 2017

After providing $600,000 and $750,000 in the last two fiscal years, lawmakers allocated nothing this year.

Jewell Domingos moved to Hawaii to help her brother Anthony, who has chronic illnesses.

She had been living in a small apartment with him in Waikiki as his full-time caretaker when she said she received a letter from the program that provided his housing saying she could no longer stay with her brother.

In fear of jeopardizing his living situation, she relocated to a homeless shelter.

Domingos, who had dedicated all her time to helping her brother, suddenly needed help herself. She called Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and was provided an attorney for free who fought for her right as a caretaker to not only live with her brother, but at no additional rent. They were successful.

Jewell Domingos makes a fruit salad for her brother, who has health issues. The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii fought for her right to live with him so she can take care of him. (Photo: Cory Lum/Civil Beat)

"Having help and an advocate from Legal Aid really turned me around both financially and spiritually," Jewell said. "It gave me a clean slate." Full article
In the Community and Around the Office

Kokua Healthcare Navigators
Legal Aid's Healthcare Kokua Outreach Specialist Cinder Sonis presented to staff of Ulu Ke Kukui and Ohana Ola Kaahumanu Transitional Shelter about health insurance enrollment.  The Health Navigators plan to educate shelter residents in July and August 2017.  Starting September 2017, they will update MedQUEST applications for residents to prepare for open enrollment on November 1, 2017.  The Health Navigators hope to reach more Chuukese- and Marshallese-speaking clients.

Cinder with staff from Ulu Ke Kukui and Ohana Ola Kaahumanu Transitional Shelter

Sepe and Julie with staff members from We Are Oceania
Kosraean (Malem) Liberation Day:  June 10, 2017

Healthcare Kokua Outreach Specialist Julie Johannes and Sepe Mongkeya attended a gathering to commemorate Kosraean (Malem) Liberation Day, when Japanese military forced villagers from Malem to evacuate their village in 1942.  The Japanese military used the village as a military base during WWII.  Julie and Sepe interacted with 25-35 people, informing them about health insurance and Legal Aid's scheduled outreaches and distributing flyers.  They also helped consumers call the Marketplace to follow up on enrollments.  For consumers who did not bring required documents, Sepe and Julie asked them to contact them and schedule appointments.  Sepe and Julie also learned about upcoming events in July and September for the Kosraean community, where they can continue their outreach.  Navigators from the state-contracted organization, We are Oceania, also attended.

Public Interest Law Clerks

Law Clerks Chad Au, Ty Mangan, and Alex Mendoza attended a gathering for civil rights and public interest summer law clerks and interns hosted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The event gave summer law clerks from the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, EEOC, ACLU, Hawaii Appleseed, and the Native Hawaii Legal Corporation a chance to greet and meet each other

(Photo: Gervacio/EEOC)

19th Annual Celebrate Fathers Event
AmeriCorps Advocates Michelle HortonAngela Hwang, and Jane Lee provided legal information at the 19th Annual Celebrate Fathers Event at Windward Mall on Oahu hosted by the Hawaii State Commission on Fatherhood & the Hawaii Coalition for Dads, and sponsored in part by P.A.R.E.N.T.S. Inc.   
"Before I came to Legal Aid I wasn't sure of what forms and kinds of decision I needed to make for my most senior years. Tahisha helped and explain things to help me understand it all. Legal Aid helped me to process the proper forms I needed to begin my quest of preparing my will. Tahisha was thoughful, knew the answers to my questions, prompt in mailing the forms she said she would mail, addressed me with honor, was kind and considerate. Thank you Tahisha!" - Leanne, 69

Tahisha Depontes is the paralegal for Legal Aid's Kokua Kupuna Project in Kona. The project is funded by Title III of the Older Americans Act and through the Hawaii Department of Health, Executive Office on Aging to help kupuna with their legal needs.
AmeriCorps Positions Now Available

Be part of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii's AmeriCorps program and help make a difference in the community. Deadline for applications is July 31, 2017-apply today! Click for more information.

Employment Opportunities
Legal Aid is currently hiring for the following positions:

Fair Housing Investigators Needed

The Fair Housing Enforcement Program is currently seeking volunteer undercover investigators!