“It’s always a great feeling to provide assistance to someone in need, “says Federal Tax Clinic legal intern, Mitchell Smith, as he reflects on a recent USD Legal Clinics outreach experience. “Many people can’t afford to pay for legal services, and I believe that people of all income levels should have access to quality legal representation. It’s why I applied to the Federal Tax Clinic, and it’s been a very rewarding experience. Our clients are usually very grateful for the services we provide and we are more than happy to help them out.“
On October 9th, Smith joined USD Legal Clinics Outreach Coordinator, Patty O’Deane at the Neighborhood House Association (NHA) Head Start/Early Head Start Resource Fair and Networking Conference. Held at the NHA Main Conference Room from 10am-3:30pm, Smith and O’Deane provided informational flyers and answered questions about the free legal services the clinics provide to low-income San Diegans. By providing information to Head Start and Early Head Start staff, the clinic, in turn, reaches thousands of families. Seventy-one organizational representatives stopped by the clinics’ table.
“Many people that stopped by our booth had general questions about the types of legal issues that the various clinics handle,” describes Smith. “Some people had specific questions regarding the various clinics. One person that stopped by our booth had recently received a notice from the IRS. I told her that I could not provide legal advice at the resource fair, but I gave her the information for the tax clinic and told her I would be more than happy to help her out if she met the clinic guidelines.”
The Legal Clinics participates in dozens of such outreach events throughout the year, including the MAAC Head Start & Early Start 22nd Annual Networking Conference, which O’Deane attended on October 23rd from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. at the San Marcos Civic Center. “Three hundred organizations were invited to participate in the conference, and it was a great opportunity to network and provide staff with our services information,” comments O’Deane. “Eighty-eight organization representatives stopped by the USD Legal Clinics table and I was also able to also help those who were Spanish-speaking.“
“I learned that many people are unaware that free legal clinics exist,” adds Smith. “Many people were very surprised when Patty and I told them that our services are free, if they meet certain lower income requirements. It was nice to let people know that we are there to help them if they need it.”
About Neighborhood House Association
The Neighborhood House Association (NHA) was established in 1914 as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization. NHA began as a settlement house assisting immigrants in transitioning into the San Diego Community. NHA helps thousands of individuals and families improve their quality of life by providing vital social services including employment, healthcare, child, family and senior services. NHA Head Start is a federally-funded child development program designed to help break the cycle of poverty by providing preschool children of low-income families with a comprehensive program to meet their emotional, social, health, nutritional and psychological needs.
MAAC Head Start & Early Head Start is a Federally Funded Childhood and Family Education program serving children ages 0-5 and their families in North San Diego County. Currently, MAAC serves over 2,000 economically disadvantaged children and their families throughout North San Diego County in the communities of Fallbrook, Pauma, Valley Center, Rincon, San Marcos, Escondido, Vista, Oceanside, and Carlsbad.