Thank you to everyone who made the 2016 Campaign for Legal Services a success!
We beat our goal of raising $275,000 to support New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center. Thanks to you, thousands of people around our state will have access to qualified, specialized legal aid when they face a crisis that could destabilize their lives.
Click below to read stories of how YOU helped people through legal aid in New Hampshire!
Abby's legal aid success story: Escaping abuse and starting over
When Abby filed for a restraining order and requested supervised visitation, she thought some time apart might serve as a wake-up call for how her husband’s abuse had hurt the family.
He retaliated by cashing out his 401k, hiring an attorney and filing for divorce.
At their first hearing, Abby represented herself.
The judge ruled that she was entitled to only $50 per month in child support, despite being able to work only part-time to care for all four children.
“I just didn’t have the language, I didn’t know the laws, and his lawyer just mopped the floor with me,” she said. “After it was over, I sat and cried for three hours.”
With legal help, Abby was able to increase the amount of child support she receives each month to a more reasonable level.
“I never would have been able to get through the divorce on my own. Having someone knowledgeable and capable, it was a huge relief. No one expects this to happen to them, but it’s so wonderful to have someone that knows what they’re doing and can say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’
“It’s not easy being a single parent, but I did what I had to do for my children. Legal aid picked up and did what I couldn’t do myself.”
Enrique's legal aid success story: Keeping his home, and his job
Enrique is a 54-year-old veteran living in Manchester. When he suddenly lost his job, he fell behind in rent. Enrique found a new job, but his landlord had begun the eviction process, including a request for hundreds of dollars beyond what Enrique owed.
Compounding Enrique’s anxiety, the landlord filed the case in Portsmouth, where he lived. Enrique does not have a vehicle to make that trip, and even if he did, he did not want to cause trouble at his new job by asking for time off so soon after starting.
Enrique connected with an NHLA attorney who successfully filed a request for the case to be heard in Manchester, instead of Portsmouth. The attorney then negotiated with the landlord to stop the eviction and correct the amount owed.
Enrique loves his new job, and is making payments on his debt to his landlord. Without NHLA, Enrique says he thinks he would have had to move to a homeless shelter or back to the streets. Without a stable home address, he doubts he would have been able to keep his new job.
“I’ve always worked, and I’ll pay what I owe,” Enrique says. “My landlord is willing to work with me now because he knows I have legal aid backing me up. Honestly, legal aid probably saved my life.”
Eleanor's legal aid success story: I couldn't imagine living anywhere else
Ikey and her husband Bob bought their home in 1952, excited to live near White Park in Concord, where they had met and where both spent hours playing and skating growing up in the 1940s.
In the little grey house, the only one they ever owned, Bob and Ikey raised their three kids. The couple stayed healthy enough as they great older to continue living in their home into their 90s, with a little help and lots of visits from children, grandchildren and great-children.
Despite a limited income, they were able to afford keeping the house in part thanks to a state law that reduces property taxes for low-income elderly residents.
Ikey is now 96, and living alone after Bob passed away in late 2013. In June 2014, the city assessing department told her she was no longer eligible for the tax credit. They had used the income she and Bob received together in 2013, and applied it to her household status of one person for 2014.
“I’m a pretty laid back person, but that just set me off,” said her son-in-law George. He set out to find a lawyer who could help Ikey appeal the ruling. He found Elliott Berry at NHLA.
“Elliott really went above and beyond my farthest expectations. I knew in the back of my mind, it would have killed her if she had to leave this house,” George said.
The day her appeal was approved was “a happy day, a very happy day,” Ikey said. “Here I am. It means everything to me. I just can’t imagine living anywhere else.”