Operating from the Family Support Center on Blythe Avenue — one of our hometown’s most impoverished neighborhoods — The Refuge, as most now call it, has established a working partnership with Legal Aid of East Tennessee.
Arguably, LAET is one of the community’s best kept secrets. Yet its staff and paralegals provide an invaluable service to residents who sometimes need it the most, but who can’t afford to pay the legal fees charged by professional, fully licensed attorneys.
We refer to legal services. LAET workers provide legal counseling for free in the areas of housing, consumer, health/benefits/food stamps, senior citizens, unemployment, mortgage and foreclosure, and family. LAET does not practice criminal law.
In a groundbreaking partnership announced by our newspaper recently, The Refuge is now providing office space for LAET workers who will be on-site three days each month. The established day will be the second Monday of each month. The other two days will rotate monthly based on the court schedules of the LAET staff members.
Until further notice, LAET’s Stacey Emigh-Ooten will work inside The Refuge office on the second Monday of every month from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. in order to provide general intake services. On Monday, July 23, LAET’s Teresa Allen will be on-site from 9 a.m. to noon to provide Family Law intake. On Friday, July 27, LAET’s David Nagle will work out of The Refuge office from 8:30 a.m. to noon to provide Senior intake.
This schedule will be followed only in July. In August, the second Monday visit will remain, but the other two dates will change month to month. Those wishing to schedule appointments may contact LAET by calling 423-756-4013. After the July dates, area residents may contact The Refuge at 423-584-5211 to find out the dates for upcoming months. The Refuge workers will not be authorized to schedule appointments with LAET, but they can provide information on scheduled on-site visits for each succeeding month.
LAET workers are available to any individual or families for legal counseling who meet federal poverty and LAET priority guidelines.
Although The Refuge concentrates much of its work within the neighborhoods of East Cleveland — which is why the organization operates there — the nonprofit does open its doors to anyone in the Cleveland and Bradley County community who has a legitimate need.
Kelli Kyle, director of Community Involvement for The Refuge who over the past couple of years has become a well recognized liaison between neighborhood needs and community resources, understands the value of making legal service counseling available within lower-income areas. She also is quick to give credit where credit is due — to LAET whose staff wants to become more accessible to key neighborhoods and the families that call them home.
Welcoming LAET is another step in The Refuge cause of embracing its surrounding neighborhood; engaging the families and their children; creating opportunities in education and training; and promoting an increased awareness about jobs and potential careers, health insurance, financial literacy, computers and technology, and fiscal responsibility.
Since coming to Cleveland, The Refuge has concentrated on a fundamental cause — strengthening self-esteem within the hearts and minds of families, parents and children who need little more than a helping hand and a boost in confidence.
We encourage any with a need for LAET’s expertise to reach out to this worthwhile organization.
We thank The Refuge Community Centre for bringing this partnership to a neighborhood that needs it most.