In 2018, Legal Aid created the Community Advisory Council (CAC), comprised of former Legal Aid clients, with the goal of engaging members of the community to provide feedback and guidance on our work. The CAC now has 11 members, including the six members we were able to photograph above: Tangela Hicks, Cynthia Spencer, Carol Holley (top row, left to right), Alicia Smith, James Reed, and Linda Kenmore (bottom row, left to right).
Members of the CAC are thought leaders with respect to issues facing our client community. CAC members meet with Legal Aid quarterly to share their ideas and develop clear and effective action plans to organize and advocate for the court and government to better meet the needs of the community.
“I was in a position where I could actually fall behind and lose my place and everything. So Legal Aid helped me get that situated. After my experience, I started telling people, if they had some problems just go through Legal Aid.”CAROL HOLLEY
To date, the CAC have met with the Chair of the Human Services Committee for the DC Council to discuss areas needing improvement at Economic Security Administration (ESA) service centers which have long had issues in processing vital safety-net benefits to DC residents. CAC members have also worked with Legal Aid to provide testimony at the DC Council on ESA services, and housing, and unemployment issues.
Currently, members are continuing to work on major outreach initiatives including a virtual town hall and the potential creation of an electronic newsletter to keep community members abreast of issues likely important to them.
When asked why they were inspired to join the CAC, we heard one refrain over and over again. These individuals received life-changing help from Legal Aid – help that they didn’t even know existed. They wanted to give back to Legal Aid and they wanted to give back to their community by ensuring that others know about Legal Aid and know how to access those services.