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October 20, 2021

Foundation Approves Grant to Support Underserved Immigrant Community

The Columbus Bar Foundation recently approved grants of $79,000 per year for two years to the Legal Aid Society of Columbus to fund a new paralegal position at Catholic Social Services’ Our Lady of Guadalupe Center in West Columbus.

The addition of this paralegal will enhance representation for underserved immigrant communities, particularly the Hispanic community, and directly assist LASC attorney Stephanie Corcoran, who is already providing services. The partnership allows OLGC, which has a 25-year history of offering holistic services to the Hispanic community, to give clients access to free legal help provided by Ohio’s oldest civil legal services organization. CBF funds donated to honor the longtime work of retired CBA Executive Director Alex Lagusch will be used as part of this grant, since this project, and immigrant support, is of significant interest to Alex.

In addition, a new $25,000 grant for one-year from the American College of Trial Lawyers Foundation has also been received by LASC to assist with the Guadalupe Center project. The CBF Board voted last month to consider extending the two-year commitment and further lengthen the availability of these legal services if additional funds from groups like the ACTL became available. LASC estimates that Corcoran will meet her initial two-year goal of servicing 250 families during her first year at the center.

Here is a real life example of just one of the 117 families Corcoran has served since opening her office at OLGC:

When Rosa, a Guatemalan immigrant, called the OLGC, she never expected to find a Spanish speaking lawyer committed to helping her with more than legal questions. Stephanie Corcoran, an LASC attorney, not only answered her questions about child custody but also offered immigration assistance. Initially, Rosa was concerned that her children might be taken away if she initiated the process, but Corcoran took the time to explain the rules. Together they completed paperwork. Rosa soon realized she’d come to the right place. Corcoran also encouraged her to pursue her GED and was able to help Rosa file papers for back child support. “I feel safe coming to the Guadalupe Center and speaking with the (LASC) lawyer,” Rosa continued, “She explained the process, listens, and supports you. She gave me opportunities.”

“I feel safe coming to the Guadalupe Center and speaking with the (LASC) lawyer,” Rosa continued, “She explained the process, listens, and supports you. She gave me opportunities.”