The Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program has come a long way since mid-2009. This time two years ago, the program had only about 35 volunteers and about 30 open cases. Today, the MCVLP volunteer panel includes 285 volunteers, and there are currently 275 open cases. This kind of progress is remarkable, and is a true testament to the generous spirit and service-mindedness of the members of the Huntsville-Madison County Bar Association. We have clients tell us every single day that this program has changed their life, and has given them an opportunity that they otherwise would not have had to find a remedy, protect a right, or proffer a defense. The MCVLP cannot say enough to thank every single MCVLP volunteer for the time and talent you have shared over the past two years. We know how busy each and every one of you are with work, family, and other community obligations, and we truly appreciate the choice you make to share your time with our clients, and provide the assistance than only a lawyer can provide. This is YOUR volunteer lawyers program, and we hope you are as proud of it as we are.
As you know, the current economy is taking a toll on many aspects of our lives, and the impact on those already living in or near poverty is far worse than it is for you and me. Yet, at the same time, the MCVLP is facing major funding cuts next year from both Legal Services Corporation (funded by the federal government) and IOLTA funds as client trust accounts continue to decline. We anticipate that our overall budget may be reduced by as much as 20-25%.
The MCVLP has come so far, and done so much for so many, that it would truly be a tragedy for the progress to stop now due to lack of funding. Every event the MCVLP holds, from clinics to training seminars, requires funding, as does maintaining an office and a staff to conduct client intake, recruit, assign, and support volunteers, monitor cases, and increase public awareness. The MCVLP would like to raise sufficient unrestricted funds to establish an endowment equivalent to at least one year’s operating expenses. Put simply, the MCVLP cannot operate without funding, and certainly cannot continue to expand in the face of drastic budget reductions.
In the next few months, there will be several opportunities to provide financial support to the MCVLP and we ask you to please consider making a donation to the MCVLP in an amount that is personally significant. Donations are always accepted through our website: www.vlpmadisoncounty.com, or via check made payable to the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program. The MCVLP is a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax deductible. You are part of this program, you are responsible for the good work that is being done – – what better place to “invest” your charitable donation?
On behalf of the indigent citizens of North Alabama, thank you for all that you do.
Angela Slate Rawls