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Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.

Cooking up a homemade meal can be nourishing for the mind, body and soul. Read on to discover how cooking makes people happier and more connected.

November is a wonderful time to recognize your blessings and give thanks for them.

Pennlive.com - Anyone who has watched “Law & Order” or any police drama knows that someone accused of a crime is guaranteed representation by a lawyer, regardless of the ability to pay. That’s not true in civil cases. In certain cases, such as child custody issues or landlord-tenant disputes, the guidance of a lawyer is sorely needed. Nonetheless, legal help is available to those who need assistance. And too many people don’t realize it, attorneys say.

Patriot News - As advocates who interact with low-income individuals and families on a daily basis, legal services attorneys are uniquely positioned to tell the story of how poor, working families struggle everyday against seemingly insurmountable odds.

The Sentinel - To celebrate its anniversary of providing “Advocacy, Justice and Hope in Central Pennsylvania,” MidPenn will host a cocktail reception and silent auction at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Pennsylvania Capital Star - In the Capitol rotunda Monday, it took nearly seven minutes for lawmakers, officials, and advocates to read the names of the 123 Pennsylvanians who were killed in domestic violence incidents last year.

The event, organized by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, marked October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

West Reading, PA. – Reading Hospital and MidPenn Legal Services have joined forces to improve patients’ health in a way that reaches beyond the clinical setting into another important arena: legal services.

Be Well Berks, an initiative of the Community Wellness Department of Reading Hospital, has partnered with MidPenn Legal Services to create the Be Well Berks Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) program. Funded by the Be Well Berks Grant Program, the MLP provides free civil-legal advice and representation to low-income patients facing health-harming legal needs.

MSUToday - Women leaving abusive relationships suffer from more than the physical injuries and emotional shockwaves caused by their former partners. New research from Michigan State University uncovers the troubling financial situation women face due to “coerced debt” their partners place in their names, jeopardizing their chances of starting over and building a life of their own.

Daily Item - All across Pennsylvania, grandparents are stepping up to provide care for their grandchildren as a result of the devastating opioid crisis or other difficult circumstances. In fact, there are currently an estimated 89,000 households statewide where older Pennsylvanians are caring for approximately 100,000 grandchildren.

Reader's Digest - At this point, everyone has probably received a scam call (or a thousand). And by now, you’re probably savvy about more than a few of them. For example, someone impersonates your credit card company or the IRS in order to get your personal information, or an automated voice tries to get you to say “yes” so that word can be used as a voice signature for fraudulent activity. Unfortunately, scammers are only getting trickier and casting wider nets with newer scams.

Philadelphia Inquirer - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, split along party lines, voted Thursday to dramatically expand low-income utility assistance programs, making them more forgiving and more affordable for hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians.

The PUC’s action could significantly lower energy costs for the poorest families — a household with a $10,000 annual income could see a $1,000 decrease in electric and gas bills.

Centre Daily Times - MidPenn Legal Services, a nonprofit, public interest law firm, was founded in 1969 to provide free civil legal aid to individuals and families who lack the financial resources to pay for such services.

Berks County, PA - Six programs to support treatment court initiatives and help crime victims will receive a total more than $800,000 from Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. $379,005 to MidPenn Legal Services, a nonprofit, public interest law firm, for its Legal Intervention for Victims and Empowerment (LIVE) Extended program.

Comedian Spike Milligan once joked that “And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, but the Electricity Board said He would have to wait until Thursday to be connected.” Electricity, gas and water play a major role in everyday life. People rely on these utilities and going without them can be a great hardship and can even be life threatening. During these past summer months, many people turned up their air conditioners and fans as the heat index rose to over 100 degrees, which may have caused a corresponding surge in an electric bill that the consumer may not have the ability to pay. In order to address this problem and avoid utility shut-offs, there are programs and protections available to utility customers.

Cumberland County, PA - Information about estate planning will be presented during a free seminar hosted by Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland) on Thursday, Sept. 19. Scheduled from 9-10:30 a.m., the second of four planned Older and Wiser Seminars will be held in Mechanicsburg Place (the Mechanicsburg Senior Center) at 97 W. Portland St., Mechanicsburg. The topic of the seminar is “Protection through Powers of Attorney and Living Wills.” Information will be presented by representatives of MidPenn Legal Services.

State College - Honoring the 232nd anniversary of the U.S. Constitution, the annual Constitution Day Centre Celebration will offer entertainment, education, activities and more in a new location this year. Attorneys from the Centre County Bar Association and MidPenn Legal Services will answer questions related to the Fourth through Seventh Amendment regarding individual rights under the criminal justice system.

Parade - “Financial abuse can come in many forms,” certified financial planner Derek Hagen of Money Health Solutions tells Parade. “Money can be used to control people, by offering money with strings attached. This creates a financial dependency on the one receiving the money. It can create resentment and anger toward the giver. The flip side to this is if someone uses guilt and shame to get money from money.”

Reading - “(A place) where a homeless mother of three living in her car does not have to worry about safety tonight,” Williams said. “They can go to a triage center and find a safe parking lot. We can connect them with some food. We allow them to be safe. They won't be hassled or robbed or shuttled along, and in the morning we connect them with services.”

PBSNews Hour - Back in the late 1970s, the term “elder abuse” had not even been coined. Even though it clearly existed, it was rarely recognized until it was too late. Today, public health agencies, including the World Health Organization, have declared elder abuse to be a growing problem around the world and have detailed a long list of harmful activities, including physical, sexual, emotional and psychological forms of abuse and neglect, as well as the theft or withholding of financial assets needed to survive.

Cumberland - Who keeps calling me about saving money on my electric bill? How do I know if renewable energy suppliers are really using renewable energy?

When you get a letter from the IRS, do not panic. Begin by reading the letter carefully and in its entirety. Many times, all you need to do is respond. Typically, the notice will be about a specific issue regarding your federal tax return. For example, it may explain that you owe a tax and will state the amount you owe.

The Sentinel - The United Way is more than the community’s fundraiser; it also is the driving force behind many programs such as the U-Turn and Taking It To The Streets, which we are appreciative to be a part of. We are beyond thankful for their continued support of our services, as well as working together to assist those most in need in our community.

People.com - Domestic violence does not discriminate. It victimizes both young and old, rich and poor, and people of all races, religions and sexual orientations. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, approximately 20 people per minute are physically abused by a partner in the United States — an astounding 10 million women and men annually.

Observer-Reporter - The number of women living below the poverty line in Washington County from 2013 to 2017 was almost double the number of men. That isn’t just a trend seen just in Washington, but also Greene, Allegheny, Fayette, Beaver and Westmoreland counties, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It’s also seen across Pennsylvania.

Be Well Berks MLP Monologue - “On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year”[1]. See something, say something. Speak up and speak out. Please know that you are not alone. Please seek support and assistance.

NBCNews - Con artists tell lies — it’s how they make a living. Calling people and pretending to be with a government agency — IRS, Social Security, ICE, DEA, or the local sheriff’s department — is a ruse that’s been lucrative for years. But these imposter scams have now hit an all-time high. Here are a few of the lies these government imposters are telling. In each case, the goal is to steal your money and/or personal information:

Johnston, PA - For low-income seniors, assistance is available to make sure they receive healthy and nutritious meals. On Monday, representatives from Hunger-Free Pennsylvania, the largest provider of meals to older Pennsylvanians, were at St. Vincent de Paul Food For Families to review its Commodity Supplemental Food Program and ensure its compliance. The program is the centerpiece of Hunger-Free Pennsylvania's efforts to improve the health of low-income seniors by supplementing their diets with food packages.

MLP Monologue - Foreclosure

Be Well Berks MLP Monologue- “Well, actually, if you can stay in your home that is a better deal for the neighborhood. It's certainly a better deal for the person that is in their home, rather than to be on the street and for that house to go into foreclosure and become a problem for the whole community”. These words from former United States Representative John Garamendi (California) help to highlight the issues that surround foreclosure and urge the importance of learning about the foreclosure process.

WGNS News Radio - While the criminal justice side of the opioid epidemic has received significant attention, the civil legal issues it has caused have quietly smoldered into a raging inferno, overwhelming legal aid providers, families, social service providers, and courts. The Legal Services Corporation, which funds legal aid organizations across America, recently rolled out a new report on this issue at the Tennessee Supreme Court in Nashville.

Colorado Springs, CO - Scammers like to strike when you’re at your most vulnerable. Last week, Nancy contacted me after receiving a strange call just days after losing her husband. The caller claimed to work for the VA. “She told me she was sorry that my husband had died recently. But she was telling me that we had lost out on getting an annuity with life insurance because in 2016 we hadn’t followed up on a letter that had been sent; that if we gave an annuity, we would collect $20,000,” Nancy said.

Philadelphia, PA - It was late on Oct. 11, 2006, when Khalia Robinson, then six months pregnant, got a craving for Chinese food. The corner takeout was packed, full of hungry patrons, people hanging out, a guy selling bootleg CDs. As Robinson squeezed in, her giant belly knocked a pile of CDs from a windowsill. As she was stacking them up again, she looked up to see a police officer standing over her, telling her she was under arrest. Almost a year later, Robinson finally beat the counterfeiting charges. But the criminal record it left behind was a stain that wouldn’t wash out, showing up whenever she tried to land a new job.

Allentown, PA - Aimed at reducing the stigma that people with criminal records face while looking for jobs, education and housing, Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law expands criminal record sealing to more types of offenses. Starting Friday, an automated computer process will begin wiping cases from public databases. These include charges that were dropped or where individuals were found not guilty, as well as summary convictions and other nonviolent crimes that occurred more than 10 years ago.

Harrisburg, PA - The Federal Trade Commission has finalized the rule implementing a 2018 law that requires the nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to provide free electronic credit monitoring services for active duty military consumers.

The Free Electronic Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military Rule, which will be published in the Federal Register shortly, implements legislation included in the 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which amended the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by requiring CRAs to notify active duty military consumers about any “material” additions or modifications to their credit files.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Ten percent of 60,979 households in Franklin County, Pa., live in poverty, according to a new report released Tuesday by United Way of Pennsylvania.

For some families in Franklin County, financial conditions have improved since 2010, the end of the Great Recession. Yet with rising costs in housing, child care, food and health care, many still find themselves struggling.

YORK, Pa. — Juanita Baxter was 17 years old, pregnant and homeless. "I didn't know how to take care of a child, so I ended up dropping out of school," she said. She eventually got her G.E.D., but she struggled financially for years. "As soon as you get a regular job, your rent goes up, you don't get food stamps," Baxter said. According to the United Way's Alice Report, 1.2 million households in the state earn more than the federal poverty level, but still not enough to pay for basics like housing, food, transportation and child care.

“Civil legal aid in my view works best as a value-add to everything else, whether it’s mental health, health care, substance abuse treatment and recovery,” he said. “Legal aid is a necessary component, because barriers arise to whatever the end goal is, sobriety or living with recovery.”

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Legal Aid attorneys in Northeast Ohio remove hurdles for thousands of low-income clients each year. “We think a lot about the immediate impact,” Colleen Cotter, executive director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland said. “Did we prevent an eviction? A foreclosure? Did we make a domestic violence victim safer?” But does that work pay long-term dividends for clients and their families? For the community?

York, PA - To help these men and women get back on their feet, rebuild their lives and reduce recidivism, the York County Reentry Coalition sponsored a Second Chance job fair Wednesday, June 12, at the York County Administrative Center. About 30 companies sent recruiters to meet with more than 200 people having difficulty finding jobs because of their criminal records. "If more people were opening doors and stopped looking at your past history, I think it would be a lot better for the inmates that are coming home, who paid their debts to society and are willing to change and not go back to their bad habits," said Jamar Johnson, a job-seeker at the fair.

Washington, DC - Between 1999 and 2017, nearly 400,000 people in the United States died from overdoses involving opioids and by 2017, over 2 million people had been diagnosed with an opioid use disorder. Legal aid may be the key to facilitating recovery for them. The Legal Services Corporation, a nonprofit organization established by Congress to provide legal services to low-income Americans, shared these facts Monday along with 13 recommendations on how to better integrate legal services in communities to confront this epidemic.

Harrisburg, PA - As a result of the opioid epidemic sweeping the state, more and more grandparents, other family members and neighbors are becoming primary caregivers of minor children when parents are absent. Recent statistics from Grandfamilies.org show that 103,000 children in Pennsylvania live with a relative with no parent present and more than 88,000 grandparents are householders responsible for their grandchildren who live with them. Act 21 of 2018, which went into effect in Pennsylvania on July 3, 2018, expands custody rights for caregivers who find themselves in challenging situations like these.

Pennsylvania Capital Star - Two House lawmakers want the state to automatically expunge the records of anyone fully acquitted of criminal charges or granted a full pardon. The legislation was introduced in February by Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, and Rep. Tedd Nesbit, R-Mercer, who were joined by their colleagues Wednesday at a Capitol event to promote the bill. “[When] an acquittal is granted, that should be the start of a clean record,” McClinton, a former public defender, said Wednesday.

LANCASTER, Pa., Fox 43 -- Every year in Lancaster County, law enforcement officials say around 200 protection from abuse orders are violated. The Lancaster County District Attorney's Office is trying to decrease that number and prevent violent reactions after PFAs are served.

FindLaw - A "stuck" weather system has led to an especially busy tornado season in the Midwest, with over 500 tornadoes reported in just the past 30 days, from Texas to Pennsylvania. And the storm activity has also led to record to record flooding in portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, and seven deaths in Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio. The widespread damage has caught many homeowners off-guard, leaving them to wonder whether their insurance policies cover weather-related damage. Here are five things to keep in mind when it comes to natural disasters like tornadoes and homeowner's insurance coverage.

Health Affairs Blog - Older adults are disproportionately likely to have complex medical needs. Legal advocacy has been recognized as integral to the health and health care of older adults in the medical literature since 1988, and in current Medicare quality metrics. Additionally, since 1965, the Older Americans Act has provided legal assistance as an “essential service” among other aging supports such as nutrition, transportation, and in-home care.

Carlisle, PA - Paul D. Edger, Esquire has been named as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. Mr. Edger is the Managing Attorney of the Carlisle office of MidPenn Legal Services, a non-profit law firm that represents low-income individuals in various matters as well as victims of sexual and domestic violence. This is the first time he has been selected to Super Lawyers, and the first attorney from his firm named to the list.

Berks MLP Monologue - The U.S. government, through the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), oversees two programs dedicated to the ‘weakest members’ of society who are found to be disabled. These programs - Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) – both provide cash payments to people who meet the federal definition of disabled, but they differ significantly.

The Daily Item — Seniors in Pennsylvania are the victims of $1.2 billion worth of elder fraud each year, according to a recent study from an internet security website. Comparitech, in a study published this week, found that the majority of elder fraud cases in the U.S. go unreported. An estimated 5 million cases of elder fraud in the U.S. annually results in $27.4 billion of losses nationwide, according to the study.

Reading Eagle - Donald Smith Jr. has dedicated much of his professional life to the law. These days, Smith is putting his formidable knowledge of the law to use helping people who have been evicted, sometimes unfairly. He started volunteering at Mid Penn Legal Services in mid-February, providing pro-bono legal services for landlord-tenant cases.

WITF News - "There's a learning curve here between the enactment of the new changes, and when everybody else understands what the limitations are, what can or cannot be asked of the court in an order," says Stephanie Longenberger, an attorney for MidPenn Legal Services who represents PFA plaintiffs in Lancaster County.

PennLive Editorial - Hampden Township Chief of Police Steven Junkin will tell you one of the most difficult and dangerous situations his officers face on a daily basis is responding to calls of domestic violence. From 2008 to 2017, more than 1,200 people died as a result of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. The majority of those tragic deaths were abused women, but the number also included men, children and even law enforcement.

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