Thank you, Onondaga County!

Published on January 6, 2015 4:47 pm by bdgadmin in News

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On Tuesday, May 28th invited guests from Onondaga County joined HLAS Board members, clients, and staff for an appreciation breakfast in the Society’s lunchroom. The gathering offered a special opportunity for the County guests to learn more about the organization’s programs and services and for HLAS to show its appreciation for the County’s continued strong support – which in 2012 represented more than 60% of the Society’s revenue.

In attendance from the County were Legislator Robert J. Andrews of the 9th district; Legislator Kevin A. Holmquist of the 10th district; Legislator J. Ryan McMahon of the 15th district, Legislator Linda R. Ervin of the 17th district; Emilie Tisch, Budget Analyst, and Gordon Cuffy, County Attorney.

The group of close to 30 enjoyed a light breakfast fare while informally mixing and mingling. Rich Engel, HLAS Board Chair, welcomed the group and introduced Joanne Sawmiller, COO and Susan Horn, President/CEO. Ms. Horn gave a brief overview of the Society’s history and programs.

Leah Witmer, Senior Attorney in the Civil Program spoke about her work with the Foreclosure Prevention Project which offers legal advice, representation, and financial workshops to members of our community who are facing foreclosure. Ms. Witmer introduced Terri Corbishley, a former client and grateful recipient of the project’s services.

Ms. Corbishley described the desperate situation she and her children encountered when they were blindsided with service of a 72 hour eviction notice. Her estranged husband had failed to communicate their impending foreclosure…and Terri’s family found themselves facing homelessness. Leah (and her colleagues at Legal Services of CNY??) was able to negotiate a modification with the bank to extend the eviction period and thus allow ample time for Terri and her children to relocate, on their terms.

Carl Pesko, Chair of HLAS’ Community Relations Committee then invited Jeanine Anderson to tell her story. Ms. Anderson, a client of Susan Griffith, Supervising Attorney of the HLAS Family Court Program, introduced herself stating, “I am an alcoholic – I am also Lily’s Mom.”

Ms. Anderson placed a framed photograph of Lily on the table as a symbol of her source of strength and measure of success in her fight for her continued recovery and more time with Lily following an awful divorce. She credits Ms. Griffith’s guidance and perseverance with her achievement on both fronts, describing her attorney’s efforts saying, “She has walked through hell with gasoline pants and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.”

In closing, she expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Griffith, Hiscock Legal Aid, and Onondaga County on behalf of herself and Lily adding, “We will be forever indebted to you.”

All in attendance were moved by the stories of these clients, who represent the thousands of people in our community every year who receive our help.

County Appreciation Breakfast Clients chatting cropped

Client speakers Jeanine Anderson and Terri Corbishley chat before sharing their stories with the assembled group at the Hiscock Legal Aid County Appreciation Breakfast on Tuesday, May 28th.