As 2015 comes to a close, I am celebrating 30 years on the staff of the Women’s Law Project. Nothing could make me prouder. I work side by side with an extraordinary team, and know I am a very lucky woman.
Part of my job as the resident social worker and Associate Director of the Women’s Law Project is to oversee our in-house Telephone Counseling Service, which has been serving the women of Philadelphia and beyond since 1979. I am proud of the assistance we have provided to over 100,000 women seeking help with domestic violence, a wide range of family law problems, and other challenges as well.
We’ve learned a lot about Philadelphia in our three decades. We now know that nearly a quarter of all Philadelphia adults cannot read or write, and another quarter can’t read well enough to fill out a form. We know that 90% of Philadelphians seeking help at our Family Court do not have lawyers. But did you also know that Philadelphia has the largest percentage of residents living in deep poverty, as compared to the largest cities in the United States? As funding for legal services continues to shrink, these families, the ones who need the most, have nowhere to turn.
Now, as I reflect on the past and look toward the future, I feel an urgency to respond to this desperate need. As technology advances, we are taking advantage of it to reach thousands more women through our website and links to other resources… but this doesn’t help some the people we most need to serve. Many of our constituents are on the other side of the digital divide.
I have a vision of developing educational tools that will reach people where they are, give them what they need, and inspire them to believe in themselves. After all, isn’t that why the Telephone Counseling Service exists? I want to create easy-to-read materials that are accessible to those of low literacy. I want to translate our materials into multiple languages. I want to develop videos so that those who do not read can understand and engage in the court system. Most of all, I want the poorest communities in our city to know we are there for them.
To do this, I need your help. We have very limited financial support for the Counseling Service. We need to raise significant funds to realize this dream. I write to you today to ask if you might consider giving once more to the women of Philadelphia – perhaps a contribution of $30 for 30 years, or any amount that you can contribute.
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In gratitude for all your contributions, past, current, and future,