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Legal Services agency provides the poor with civil legal aid

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The Legal Services Corporation celebrated its 35th anniversary on July 25, and the grants that it provides have helped strengthen 13 counties in upstate New York, including Lewis and Jefferson counties. The corporation is the single largest funder of civil legal aid for the poor in the nation and provides over 40 percent of the annual budget of the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Inc.

In 2008, the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Inc. provided civil legal assistance to more than 5,720 low-income individuals and families, including 236 individuals and families in Lewis and Jefferson counties. The Legal Aid Society provides legal information, advice and representation in civil cases, such as public benefits, consumer and debt problems, family matters, access to health care, housing, discrimination, employment, education, future planning and other legal problems. The Legal Aid Society also has the Legal HelpLine that allows eligible callers to use a toll-free telephone system that provides legal advice, information, brief services and referral.

Congress created the Legal Services Corporation in 1974, and today it provides funding to 137 programs, including the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Inc., across the nation. Because of the recession, federal funding for civil legal aid is more important than ever before, as millions of Americans slip into poverty for the first time and face legal problems.

But federal funds alone cannot keep up with the growing requests for help by those who come to legal aid programs, and the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Inc. needs your support and that of others in this area. To learn more about our services, visit our Web sites at www.lasmny.org and www.lsc.gov.

Paul J. Lupia

Utica

The writer is the executive director of Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York Inc.

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