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In This Issue: PNA Survey Concludes with Great Response from PEERS, Training Calendar, Pumpkin Streusel Muffins, Virtual Resident Rights Bingo, Welcome New Volunteer, History of Scarecrows, Volunteers Opportunities, Residents' Rights Month, One Step at a Time - But Always Forward
Whether you choose to volunteer at a local shelter, support military service personnel or donate to a cause you care about, your Labor Day can be focused on honoring those who have worked so hard to build up our country’s economic and political well being.
To be a lawyer, you have to be intelligent. Right? If you are a judge, you have probably demonstrated a high level of intelligence as well. What does it mean to be intelligent? Are we all intelligent in the same way? What is emotional intelligence? What role, if any, does emotional intelligence have in our performance as attorneys or judges?
I, by no means, claim to possess a definitive answer to these questions. After all, I only have a bachelor's degree in psychology and a little over four decades on this planet. I do, however, declare myself a curious student of the matters of the brain and the mind.
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Every July, Disability Pride Month is a powerful reminder about the importance of disability rights. This July, it’s also a time to talk about Medicaid renewal scams that could affect millions of people with disabilities. To make sure people had insurance during the pandemic, states had to keep people enrolled in Medicaid — but that requirement has been phased out. So where do scams come in? Well, people eligible for Medicaid now have to re-enroll. If they’re not eligible for Medicaid, they need to find new insurance. And that means scammers will start targeting those people — including people with disabilities.
To avoid the scams, here’s what to know:
Medicaid won’t charge you to renew or enroll. Your state Medicaid agency may call, text, or email you to renew. But it won’t ask for money or information like your credit card or bank account number. Learn about eligibility at Medicaid.gov/renewals.
Start at HealthCare.gov if you need new insurance. HealthCare.gov compares insurance plans, coverage, prices, and your eligibility. It only asks for your monthly income and age to give you a price quote. Don’t share your bank account or credit card number to get a quote for health insurance. That’s a scam.
Scammers try to sell medical discount plans that are not medical insurance. Medical discount plans charge a monthly fee for supposed discounts on some medical services or products from a list of providers. They’re not a substitute for health insurance. Some plans just take your money for little or nothing in return. If anyone pressures you to sign up quickly for a medical discount plan, that’s a red flag.
During Disability Pride Month, share this information with your friends, family, colleagues, and social networks. And if you spot a scam, tell the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 21, 2023) — Pennsylvania Bar Association President Michael J. McDonald has named 12 Pennsylvania lawyers to the 2023-24 class of the association’s Bar Leadership Institute (BLI). “The young lawyers selected for the BLI are the future leaders of the PBA and the legal profession,” said McDonald. “This is yet another important way the PBA makes good lawyers better, better able to serve our profession, our communities and the administration of justice. This experience offers them the opportunity to be paired with PBA Board of Governors mentors who guide them through an in-depth look at the association’s operations. I am honored to work with them throughout the next year and watch them grow as professionals, make valuable connections and gain the confidence to serve as mentors for the next generation of lawyers.”
The new BLI class members include:
Kathryn M. Dales, MidPenn Legal Services, Gettysburg
Kristine Grega, Beaver County Children and Youth Services, Beaver
Matthew M. McKeon, MacElree Harvey Ltd., Chester
Jessica M. Lehman, Hill Turowski James & Lehman LLP, Bloomsburg
Mark Kovalcin, Pennsylvania Health Insurance Exchange Authority, Harrisburg
Boutros Imad, Knox McLaughlin Gornall & Sennett PC, Erie
Lance D. Greene, Saxton & Stump, Lancaster
Kristin N. Hutchins, Noonan Law Office, Allentown
Joseph F. Saporito III; Saporito, Falcone & Watt; Pittston
Kathryn M. Brady; Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer LLP; Blue Bell
Franqui-Ann J. Raffaele; Hamburg, Rubin, Mullin, Maxwell & Lupin PC; Lansdale
Jessica E. Rodriguez, City of Philadelphia Law Department, Philadelphia
This year’s BLI co-chairs are PBA Vice President Kristen B. Hamilton, Law Office of Eric J. Weisbrod PC, Chambersburg; PBA past House of Delegates Chair Jonathan D. Koltash, Governor’s Office of General Counsel, Harrisburg; and past PBA Secretary Beverly H. Rampaul, Governor’s Office of General Counsel, Harrisburg. To apply for the BLI, candidates had to demonstrate leadership ability, commit to attendance and participation in the required events, be currently licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania, be a PBA member, and be age 40 years or younger or have practiced five years or less. The BLI was originally developed by Arthur L. Piccone of Kingston in 1995-96 during his year as PBA president to strengthen the PBA’s ongoing efforts to recruit and develop leaders of the association. The first chair of the institute, Gretchen A. Mundorff of Connellsville, re-launched the BLI when she became the 2010-11 president of the PBA. Its current purpose is to inform participants on the day-to-day operations, governance, resources and staffing of the association, as well as provide introductions to its various leadership opportunities.
[York PA – June 21, 2023] The York County Pardon Project is hosting a free expungement and pardon clinic on Wednesday, July 12, 2022, from 5-7 pm at the First Presbyterian Church, 225 E. Market Street, York. Lawyers will be on site at this free clinic to answer questions and discuss if an expungement, sealing of the record or a pardon is an option. Registration is required. Contact Janelle.Black@yorkbar.com or call (717) 854-8755 x 204 to register. Eligibility requirements are as follows: 1) Arrests/charges in York County only. 2) Must reside in York County. 3) No current criminal charges. 4) Not currently on probation or parole. 5) All applicants must be prepared to discuss any outstanding costs, fines, and restitution.
The Pardon Project is a statewide initiative spearheaded by the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE). Director Tobey Oxholm, Esq., has been instrumental in organizing many local pardon projects including that of York County. According to Oxholm, “Pardons are an amazing opportunity that almost no one knows about. A pardon from the Governor is the only way to get a conviction off your record, and today in Pennsylvania, more than two-thirds of the people applying are actually receiving a pardon. The Pardon Project is about neighbors helping neighbors apply. Pardon projects are community-based efforts that connect individuals whose criminal records are preventing them from securing employment, safe and affordable housing, and other opportunities, with people, pardon coaches, who have been trained in how to help.” See more at www.PardonMePA.org.
The York County Pardon Project was launched, and the first clinic was held in the fall of 2022. Partners include The Program, It’s About Change, the York County District Attorney’s Office, York County Clerk of Courts, York County Bar Association and York County Bar Foundation, MidPenn Legal Services, and others.
Led by Pardon Fellow DaShawn Harrison of The Program, It’s About Change with support from the York County Bar, to date 30 pardon coaches have been trained and 60 individuals have sought assistance. 28 have qualified and 16 have been successfully placed with a pardon coach. The remaining individuals were provided with other resources such as a referral, are working with another pardon project, have opted out or were ineligible. DaShawn noted, “Doing this work means a lot to me personally. I had 5 felonies and served 8 years and 7 months in state prison for drug-related crimes. Since I have been out, my life has been affected in every way possible by having a criminal record. Today, I am a father of four and active in helping youth in our community and have also served as a credible messenger in preventing gun violence. I am proud to be able to help others in this way having been in their shoes.”
For more information about the York County Pardon Project visit https://theprogramitsaboutchange.org/pardons
Inside This Issue: Welcome New Volunteers, What Does SPF Really Mean?, Summer Fruit Salad, PNA Survey in Process, Volunteer Opportunities, A Brief History of Ice Cream, Dandelions Are Flowers, Too!
If you get tons of scam text messages, you’re not alone. Lots of people have been reporting to the FTC that they’re getting texts from scammers impersonating people and organizations you know and trust — like your bank or companies like Amazon. An analysis of consumer reports reveals the top text scams from 2022. So, what are they? And how do you avoid them?
The latest FTC Data Spotlight explores how text scams try to get you to act NOW. Whether it’s the thrill of getting a free item or the panic about a large unauthorized charge, scammers know that these texts are hard to ignore. The most-reported text scam looks like a fraud alert from your bank, but it’s fake. It might say there’s suspicious activity on your account and tell you to call a number. Or to reply “yes or no” to confirm a big purchase (that you didn’t really make). But don’t do it. There is no real problem. They just want your money or personal information.
Another common text scam promises a “free gift”— if you click a link. But then they ask you for payment information to cover the “shipping cost.” If you give it, you’ll get unauthorized charges on your account…and no free gift.
So how do you avoid these and other text scams?
Don’t click on links or respond to unexpected texts. If you think a text might be legit, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Don’t use the information in the text message.
Report text scams. Forward them to 7726 (SPAM). This helps your wireless provider spot and block similar messages.
And if you spot a text scam, the FTC wants to hear about it. Tell us what happened at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
WHYY - Thousands of Pennsylvanians could get free air conditioners this summer with federal utility assistance money traditionally used for heating.
It’s the second summer the state is using its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) money to fund installation, repair or replacement of air conditioning units. “We’re just trying to keep up with climate change,” said Steve Luxton, CEO of the Energy Coordinating Agency, one of two local weatherization agencies that administer LIHEAP funds in Philadelphia. “Making sure that folks are not just comfortable but safe in their homes.”
Around the world, human-caused climate change is making heat waves more dangerous. Philadelphia summers have already gotten hotter, and heat is not distributed evenly in the city. The annual number of cooling degree days, a measure that reflects how long the outside temperature is above 65 degrees to illustrate air conditioning needs, in Philadelphia has trended up over the last five decades, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Climate Central. Going back to 1874, seven of the 10 years with the most cooling degree days in Philly have occurred since 2010, the group found. In the last 10 years, Philly has experienced 27% more cooling degree days than it did in the 1970s.
Many families in Philly live in old brick row houses, which can feel like brick ovens in the summer, Luxton said. Last year, at least seven Philadelphians died from heat-related causes.
“When I first got into this industry, [air conditioning] … was looked at as non-essential or non-critical, unlike heating,” Luxton said. “But I’m glad to see that the thinking has changed.” States are increasingly using federal utility assistance dollars to help low-income families afford air conditioning, said Mark Wolfe, director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, which represents the state officials that distribute LIHEAP funds. But going forward, more funding for cooling assistance is needed, he said. In a typical year, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians get help paying their winter heating bills, fixing or replacing their heaters, buying fuel, or weatherizing their homes through LIHEAP. But until last year, the state had no focused effort to use this federal money to meet cooling needs during the summer.
Last summer, the state rolled out a pilot program to use some of this money to provide or repair air conditioning units for LIHEAP or weatherization recipients. More than 2,000 households received assistance, according to the state Department of Community & Economic Development, which runs the pilot program. The state is repeating the pilot program this summer, and extending the dates from May 1 to August 31. Officials expect it to serve more families. “We’re still calling it a pilot, because we’re still trying to work out the kinks,” said Kathryn Rulli, deputy director of Weatherization Assistance and Whole Home Repairs Programs in the Department of Community & Economic Development. “Beginning it earlier this year, we felt we’d have a stronger use of the funds.”
How to get free air conditioners this summer
To be eligible for Pennsylvania’s LIHEAP Crisis Cooling Pilot, a renter or homeowner needs to have already received some form of LIHEAP or weatherization assistance in the past 12 months. These programs are reserved for Pennsylvanians living at 150% or 200% of federal poverty income guidelines, respectively. State officials say more than 300,000 Pennsylvanians received this assistance in the past year, and therefore qualify for the summer air conditioner assistance program. If you qualify, you could get two Energy Star-rated room air conditioner units or one unit and a fan, repair or replacement of your existing but broken central air conditioning system, or repair or replacement of your existing but broken heat pump. Staff or contractors with your local weatherization agency will install the equipment for you.
To participate in the program, find the letter confirming you have received LIHEAP or weatherization assistance in the past year, then reach out to your local weatherization agency, as the application process may differ among agencies, state officials said. A list of local agencies by county can be found here. In Philadelphia, the Energy Coordinating Agency and Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation are administering the program. People can go in person to a Neighborhood Energy Center to apply. The Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation is reaching out to the roughly 350 people it provided heating services to in the past year to let them know they’re eligible for the summer cooling program, said spokesperson Jamila Davis. The Energy Coordinating Agency has begun installing air conditioners for some of the close to 3,000 Philly households it provided heating-related services to in the past year, Luxton said.
Pennsylvania’s LIHEAP Crisis Cooling Pilot only covers air conditioning equipment, not the cost of electricity bills to run that equipment. Many PECO customers will see their bills rise this summer, as the utility increases its supply rate. In Philadelphia, a disproportionate number of low-income, Black, and/or Hispanic households spend a high percentage of their income on energy — a pattern that reflects national trends. Some states, like Delaware, do provide cooling bill assistance using federal LIHEAP funds. Luxton, of the Energy Coordinating Agency, says Pennsylvania needs to follow their lead. “That needs to be first and foremost,” he said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is “open to exploring” a cooling bill assistance program in the future, said spokesperson Natalie Scott in an email. But without additional funding, DHS would need to pull money away from the program that currently helps Pennsylvanians cover their winter heating bills. “We recognize that sweltering summer months can pose a threat to the health of vulnerable Pennsylvanians,” Scott wrote. “We plan to work in partnership with our stakeholders and advocates to analyze the demand and cost of these programs so we can balance these needs and serve the vulnerable citizens of the Commonwealth throughout the year.”
Centre Daily Times - Food prices have been increasing at a slower rate, but they remain higher than average, straining many wallets. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said costs rose 0.2% between March and April but were 7.7% higher than in April 2022. As of Thursday, all food prices are expected to increase 6.2% this year, the USDA said in a report. The costs are different depending on whether the food is purchased to eat at home or away from home. Grocery store prices are forecast to rise 6.3% while restaurant prices are expected to increase 7.7%. In 2022, overall food prices rose 9.9% (supermarket costs were up 11.4%, while restaurant prices rose 7.7%). The USDA now expects beef, veal and fresh fruits to see price increases, while pork prices are expected to decline.
Centre County residents who need help stretching their grocery budget amid these price changes have several places to turn. GROCERY GIVEAWAY Centre Church and New Beginnings Church hold a food distribution event on the third Friday of the month. It takes place from 6-7:30 p.m. at Centre Church, 119 E. College Ave., Pleasant Gap. Register at centrechurch.org/groceries. Participants should bring their own reusable bags to carry their groceries and note that the distribution is first come, first served. “We have all felt the budget strains caused by astronomical grocery prices. Through this event we hope to bless local individuals and families with supplemental groceries to help lighten the load,” Centre Church wrote on Facebook. FARMERS MARKET The Community Farmers Market at the Nittany Mall will give away local produce this summer.
The Progress - Ann B. Wood of Clearfield has been named “Woman of the Year” by the Clearfield Business and Professional Women’s Organization. Wood was born and raised in Clearfield. She is a graduate of Clearfield Area High School, Lycoming College and The University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Following graduation from law school in 1976, she became the first woman attorney in private practice in Clearfield County when she joined the law firm of Bell, Silberblatt & Swoope, now known as Bell, Silberblatt & Wood, a law firm founded by several attorneys, including her grandfather.
She has provided pro bono legal services through Mid Penn Legal Services, formerly Keystone Legal Services, since 1976. She has been professionally and is a member of the American Bar Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, where she has served on the Board of Governors and currently serves as a member of the House of Delegates and on the PA Bar Insurance and Trust Board and the Clearfield County Bar Association where she has served as treasurer.
Justice Rising - Throughout my legal career as a corporate attorney specializing in mergers and acquisitions — specifically private equity and independent sponsor deals — I have had the privilege of engaging in pro bono work for nonprofit organizations. Guiding these entities in establishing their non-profit statuses and facilitating their registrations with the appropriate local jurisdictions has been instrumental in enabling them to fulfill their important missions.
The United States provides numerous opportunities to diverse groups of people. However, throughout our country’s history, certain communities have been denied equal access to justice, sometimes even deliberately. This systemic discrimination costs communities in incalculable ways with effects that last for generations. By closing the justice gap, we aim to level the playing field for disenfranchised communities.
Pennlive.com - “As a provider of civil legal services, we are excited to collaborate with the International Service Center on this important initiative which will help us to fulfill our mission of promoting access to justice for all, regardless of one’s ability to speak English” commented Rhodia Thomas, Esq., Executive Director for MidPenn Legal Services.
Language justice is about building and sustaining multilingual spaces in our organizations and social movements so that everyone’s voice can be heard both as an individual and as a part of diversity of communities and cultures. Valuing language justice means recognizing the social and political dimensions of language access, while working to dismantle language barriers, and build strong communities for social and racial justice.
Therefore, the Center for Justice and Equity within MidPenn Legal Services is joining forces with the International Service Center in a unique language justice training in May.
Harrisburg, PA - Language justice is about building and sustaining multilingual spaces in our organizations and social movements so that everyone’s voice can be heard both as an individual and as a part of diversity of communities and cultures. Valuing language justice means recognizing the social and political dimensions of language access, while working to dismantle language barriers, and build strong communities for social and racial justice.
Therefore, the Center for Justice and Equity within MidPenn Legal Services is joining forces with the International Service Center in a unique language justice training in May. MidPenn staff will be training foreign language interpreters in various civil legal topics. The trainings will take place at the International Service Center’s building every Tuesday and Thursday starting at 9:00 a.m.
“As a provider of civil legal services, we are excited to collaborate with the International Service Center on this important initiative which will help us to fulfill our mission of promoting access to justice for all, regardless of one’s ability to speak English” commented Rhodia Thomas, Esq., Executive Director for MidPenn Legal Services.
“As a service provider for the disadvantaged and underprivileged refugees and immigrants of the world, we are grateful to MidPenn Legal Services for offering this legal interpretation training to enhance our Interpreters’ skill in serving the Limited English Proficient clients” commented Dr. Truong N. Phuong, Executive Director for International Service Center.”
MidPenn is a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal representation, advice and education in civil cases to low-income residents and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the following 18 counties in Central PA: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntington, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Schuylkill and York. For additional information, please contact Eliz Nestorov, at 717-234-0492, ext. 2215.
The Senior Food Box Program works to improve the health of low-income seniors by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. In Pennsylvania, eligible participants include low-income individuals who are at least 60 years old and whose household income is at or below 130 percent of the U.S. poverty level.
The senior food boxes do not provide a complete diet, but rather are good sources of the nutrients typically lacking in the diets of older Americans. Among the types of foods included in the food boxes are: non-fat dry and shelf-stable fluid milk, juice, oats, ready-to-eat cereal, rice, pasta, dry beans, peanut butter, canned meat, poultry, or fish, and canned fruits and vegetables.
The Senior Food Box Program is supported through USDA's Commodity Supplemental Food Program. The USDA purchases the food and makes it available to the Department of Agriculture, which works with local non-profit agencies to facilitate distribution of the monthly food boxes to eligible participants.
Senior Interested in Participating? Seniors interested in participating in the Senior Food Box Program should call 800-468-2433 to be directed to the regional food bank distributing the Senior Food Box in their county of residence.
Seniors may also instead fill out the self-certification form and submit it to PDA via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. using the subject line "SENIOR FOOD BOX APPLICATION." PDA will then route the application to the appropriate food bank providing service in the applicant's county of residence.
Lancaster Online - Today is April 1, the day Edna Amaro was supposed to be evicted from her Lancaster city apartment. Instead, in two weeks, she will be moving into a new place.
Amaro, 78, was threatened with eviction in late October after her previous landlord sold her building, in which she had rented an apartment for nearly a half century. It was a shock to Amaro, who was given no warning and then had to scramble to find a new place with just a month to look.
With the help of MidPenn Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm that provides civil legal services to low-income residents, Amaro was given more time. But by January, when LNP | LancasterOnline first met Amaro, she was scared and desperate. The clock was ticking, and April was coming on fast.
Changes effective April 1, 2023 due to the end of a federal pandemic policy
Due to federal COVID-19 relief efforts, Pennsylvania and other states were able to continue Medical Assistance (MA) (also known Medicaid) and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for most people even if they no longer met eligibility requirements unless they:
Passed away, or
Asked to end their Medical Assistance (MA).
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 set April 1, 2023 as the end of continuous coverage for MA and CHIP. After April 1, 2023, DHS will return to normal eligibility processes. This means that all MA and CHIP recipients must complete an annual renewal to see if they are still eligible for coverage. MA and CHIP recipients should watch for their renewal and complete it as soon as they can to avoid a loss of coverage.
DHS and our partners at Pennie®Opens In A New Window (Pennsylvania's official health and dental insurance marketplace) are working hard to make sure that Pennsylvanians can get coverage either through MA, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or affordable coverage available through pennie.com.
Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network, Inc. hosted a celebration of the 2023 Excellence Awards and the kickoff of our 50th Anniversary at a Golden Gala on March 21, 2023 at the Hilton Harrisburg.
Harrisburg PA - The Golden Gala featured a cocktail reception and champagne toast, featured remarks, and a special tribute and award presentation for our 2023 Excellence Awards.
While there are thousands of advocates, pro bono attorneys, and law firms who help us immeasurably, these four partners shined above the rest this year. They are a vital part of our operation, helping us assist our Network’s clients and selflessly serving those in need in their communities.
PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) – The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) and Pennie are reminding Pennsylvanians of the upcoming end of the pandemic flexibilities for Medicaid and CHIP coverage. They’re also making it known that the Shapiro Administration has committed to helping Pennsylvanians stay covered when those changes take effect.
As of right now, the federal changes are set to take effect on Saturday, April 1.
Starting in 2020, the federal public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed individuals to continue to remain enrolled in Medicaid even if they became ineligible based on regular eligibility criteria, except in rare circumstances. This is also known as the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement. In December 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 into law, which effectively ends the continuous coverage requirement on March 31, 2023.
Beginning April 1, 2023, all Pennsylvanians must once again return to completing an annual renewal when it is due to maintaining Medicaid or CHIP coverage
No one will lose Medicaid or CHIP coverage without an opportunity to renew their coverage or update their information. Renewals will be completed over 12 months, and renewals due in March 2023 will be the first to be affected by the end of continuous coverage. All Medicaid recipients will need to go through a renewal process around the time of their normal renewal date over that 12-month period to determine if they are still eligible for Medicaid.
Pennsylvanians can update their contact information, report changes in their personal circumstances, and check their renewal date:
• Online at www.dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS
• Via the free myCOMPASS PA Mobile App
• By calling 1-866-550-4355 (215-560-7226 if they live in Philadelphia)
PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — According to the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, all SNAP households in Pennsylvania will only receive one SNAP disbursement starting in March.
During the pandemic that began in 2020, SNAP households received their original SNAP payment, as well as the SNAP Emergency Allotments (EAs) that were paid during the second half of each month.
According to the Department of Human Services, these payments were authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, due to the recent change in federal law, SNAP households will no longer receive the EAs payments in the second half of the month.
If you are looking for assistance for feeding yourself or your family, you can click here for more information.
Beginning this month, March of 2023, SNAP households will only receive their regular SNAP payment.
Someone calls or contacts you saying they’re a family member or close friend. They say they need money to get out of trouble. But check that there’s an emergency first because it could be a scammer calling.
What To Do If You Get a Call About a Family Emergency
If someone calls or sends a message claiming to be a family member or a friend desperate for money, here’s what to do:
Resist the pressure to send money immediately. Hang up.
Call or message the family member or friend who (supposedly) contacted you. Call them at a phone number that you know is right, not the one someone just used to contact you. Check if they’re really in trouble.
Call someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if the caller said to keep it a secret. Do that especially if you can’t reach the friend or family member who’s supposed to be in trouble. A trusted person can help you figure out whether the story is true.
CARLISLE, Pa. — In recognition of Women’s History Month, Penn State Dickinson Law will host several events.
Dickinson Law’s Women’s Law Caucus (WLC) will recognize two alumnae with awards during a ceremony and reception in Lewis Katz Hall on March 22. Hon. Alicea Elloras-Ally (class of 1999), a family court judge in the City of New York, New York, will receive the Hon. Sylvia H. Rambo Award. Imani S. Woodyard (class of 2021), a staff attorney with MidPenn Legal Services in York, Pennsylvania, will receive the Recent Alumna Award.
The Dickinson Law Review will present “The Impact of Women of Color in the Judiciary,” beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, March 24, in the Apfelbaum Family Courtroom and Auditorium, Lewis Katz Hall, Dickinson Law. Members of the judiciary and academia will discuss how women of color have shaped the judiciary, and the role of women of color on the bench moving forward. The symposium is being co-sponsored by the Steele Family Leadership Program in Gender and Racial Equity and the Macon Bolling Allen Civil Rights and Transitional Justice Program at Penn State Dickinson Law. Advance registration for the 2023 Dickinson Law Review symposium is required.
In addition, Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law Danielle M. Conway has published an article on "Black Women's suffrage, the Nineteenth Amendment, and the Duality of a Movement."
Centre Daily Times - A Pennsylvanian spends, on average, about $194 a month on electricity, according to industry firm Energy Sage. That adds up to over $2,000 per year. For those who are struggling to pay their bills, the state has about $188 million to give.
The federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program assists families with paying their heating bills through a one-time payment sent directly to the provider. The income limit to qualify for the program is 150% of the federal poverty limit, or $20,385 for an individual and $41,625 for a family of four. The grants range from $100 to $1,000, based on factors like income and household size.
The current income limits are: One-person household: $20,385 Two-person household: $27,465 Three-person household: $34,545 Four-person household: $41,625 Five-person household: $48,705 Six-person household: $55,785 Seven-person household: $62,865 Eight-person household: $69,945 Nine-person household: $77,025 10-person household: $84,105
HOW TO GET HELP PAYING ENERGY BILLS IN CENTRE COUNTY Any Pennsylvania resident that meets income requirements can apply online for help by visiting dhs.pa.gov/compass or calling 1-866-550-4355. Applicants will receive a notice if selected and be informed of how much aid they will receive. There’s usually a 30-day window between when the application is submitted and the notice is received. Centre County residents can also apply in-person at the local assistance office, located at 2580 Park Center Blvd. and open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For LIHEAP related questions, call the office at 814-861-1955. If you live outside Centre County, you can use this federal search tool to find a LIHEAP office near you and access help filling out your application.
Veterans can now access their disability benefit claim decision notice letters electronically on VA.gov, empowering them to quickly and easily see their disability decisions.
Before this option was available, Veterans had to wait for a paper copy of their decision notice to be mailed to them. While previous iterations of VA.gov allowed Veterans to access benefits summary letters, they could not access the full copy of these decision notification letters from their electronic claims folders.
This service became available to Veterans on VA.gov on Jan. 17. Since launching, nearly 280,000 decision notice letters have been downloaded.
“Veterans now have access to their benefits decisions anytime, anyplace – right at their fingertips,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “VA disability benefits can also open the door to other federal and state benefits, so quick and easy access to a decision means quicker access to the additional benefits Veterans deserve.”
The new electronic option is also expected to reduce calls to the National Call Centers, freeing up call center respondents to answer other questions and requests from Veterans and their families.
To access their decision letters, Veterans can log in to VA.gov and check the status of their claim. For more details, visit VA News.
LSC 2023 Illegal Evictions Issue Brief - A tenant calls city inspectors to report on necessary repairs a landlord hasn’t
made and the landlord shuts off the heat in retaliation to try and force the tenant and her family out. A single mother finds her family’s belongings spread on the lawn outside their home. A sanitation worker gets home from
work and finds he is locked out of his apartment and has to sleep on the street. A couple is locked out of their home and discovers their landlord has been selling their personal belongings to neighbors.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal, state and local governments adopted various measures to keep evictions from spiraling out of control as the country faced a surge in joblessness, infections, loss of
life, and economic uncertainty. Eviction moratoria and other actions are widely credited with keeping legal evictions—those pursued through the court system in accordance with state and local laws—at low levels during 2020 and 2021. At the same time, civil legal aid providers and others noted an increase in illegal
evictions during the height of the pandemic as landlords pursued alternative avenues for forcing tenants out—such as locking them out, shutting off utilities and even emptying a residence of all of the tenant’s
ABC News- Massachusetts man Brian Walshe appeared in court this week on charges he allegedly killed and dismembered his missing wife, Ana Walshe. The case echoes other high-profile cases in recent years involving husbands allegedly killing their wives.
Prosecutors accused Walshe of making incriminating Google searches including "10 ways to dispose of a dead body if you really need to" and "can you be charged with murder without a body."
PHOTO: Brian Walshe stands during his arraignment in Quincy District Court, in Quincy, Mass., Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, to face charges in connection with misleading investigators. Walshe has been charged with the murder of his wife.
Brian Walshe stands during his arraignment in Quincy District Court, in Quincy, Mass., Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, to face charges in connection with misleading investigators. Walshe has been charged with the murder of his wife, missing Cohas...Show more
Walshe's alleged Google searches also included, "what's the best state to divorce."
Walshe has pleaded not guilty to murder and improper transport of a body.
MORE: Husband charged with murder of missing Massachusetts mom of 3: Prosecutors
About 34% of the women killed in the U.S. in 2021 died at the hands of an intimate partner, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics. Only about 6% of the men killed in the U.S. in 2021 died from intimate partner homicide.
In summary, legal aid programs are available in every state to help low-income and needy citizens navigate the civil and criminal justice systems. A variety of services are available depending on the qualifications and resources of the providers. In the civil and criminal justice systems, legal aid is available to people who are living at or below the poverty line and cannot afford legal assistance. While the sixth amendment provides for the right to counsel in criminal proceedings, it does not apply to civil proceedings such as debt lawsuits and family court proceedings.
As a result, legal aid providers strive to bridge this wide gap by protecting the rights of low-income individuals in a variety of areas, including housing, consumer rights, employment, family, and education. Using this article, you will be able to find legal aid in any state. Let’s first look at how legal aid works throughout the country.
You Can Win Your Case With Legal Aid
Over the years, legal aid has helped millions of Americans receive fair representation in their legal matters. Furthermore, it has assisted people with little or no financial capabilities or powerful connections to protect their property, business lives, and loved ones. Depending on the circumstances, legal aid programs will provide varying levels of assistance. The following services can be provided by them:
Black History Month is a time to remember, celebrate and commemorate the achievements and contributions by African-American men and women throughout U.S. history.
Social Security Administration - Identity theft affects millions of people each year and can cause serious harm. Protect yourself by securing your personal information, understanding the threat of identity theft, and exercising caution.
Here are 10 things you can start doing now to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft:
The Sentinel - It was late and rainy Wednesday evening and Laurie Baltaeff was on a mission.
The Community CARES program assistant drove all over portions of Cumberland County with Simone McRae, the organization’s outreach coordinator, riding shotgun in the vehicle.
Both women joined approximately 30 to 35 volunteers and staff members from local organizations to conduct the county’s annual Point in Time Homeless Census.
The nationwide count is a requirement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and takes place every January. Participants canvas areas of the county and conduct conversational and observational surveys to gain a snapshot of homeless people that night.
Spearheaded in Cumberland County by Connect to Home and the Cumberland County Housing & Redevelopment Authorities, volunteers were split into groups and given lists of places in different areas that homeless people have been known to park or camp.
CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A volunteer organization says that homelessness in Cumberland County is a growing concern.
The group recently went out into the community to conduct the “Point in Time Count,” which helps to give the organization an idea of just how bad the problem is.
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Volunteers took to the streets in January and determined that at least 70 people in Cumberland County were without a home.
Chris Kapp has been taking part in the “Point in Time Census Count” for more than 20 years. Kapp says that ever since the pandemic started, she has seen an increase in the homeless population in Cumberland County.
Kapp also noted that rising rent costs and lower wages have contributed to the problem.
The longer that people are homeless, the harder it can be for them to break free from the cycle.
DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa (WHP) — Real stories from real people here in Central PA-living in poverty. CBS 21 News is taking a closer look at what some of our neighbors are dealing with.
January is National Poverty Awareness Month and CBS 21's Hallie Jacobs talked with families who know what it's like to work several jobs, while raising kids and ultimately just trying to stay afloat.
The reality is, more than 12% of people in Pennsylvania live in poverty. That's according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Dauphin County, more than 32,000 people are living in poverty and in York County, the number jumps to over 38,000.
In This Issue: Chocolate Chip Snowball Cookies; Intergenerational University Connections; Farewell to Colleen Maurer; Welcome, New Volunteers; Tips for Staying Warm, Mardi Gras; Let's Have Brunch.
Ombudsman services are provided by MidPenn Legal Services under a contract with the Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services. The program is
monitored by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging.
There are plenty of ways you can continue to volunteer your time and efforts to make the world a better place—even from the comfort of your home or inside the warmth of an organization! Check out these eight opportunities to give back during the winter.
Reading — 107 Berks County residents attended and received assistance at Thursday evenings expungement and pardon clinic. The event took place at the DoubleTree in Reading and was hosted by Magisterial District Judges Tonya Butler and Carissa Johnson. The event was sponsored by state Sen. Judy Schwank, Berks Connections/Pretrial Services, MidPenn Legal Services, and the Berks County Bar Association.
Butler said the event came about when she learned that individuals who either had charges dismissed or were found not guilty didn’t automatically have those charges removed from their records.
“We can dismiss a charge, but what we didn’t know was that the charge was still going to be on their record,” Butler said. “We were blown away in regards to that.”
Johnson added that securing an expungement or pardon clears barriers to employment and allows individuals to return to society and become productive members of their community. “I think what people fail to realize is that once a person goes to jail, they don’t stay there forever,” Johnson said. “You always have to ask yourself if you want that person to be better than they left, the same as they left, or worse.”
“I’m very proud of what we were able to accomplish tonight,” Schwank said following the event. “I had a chance to speak with so many of my constituents and hear firsthand about the support they received and how it’s going to allow them to move forward. My hat is off to all the folks who volunteered their time and helped make this happen.” Secretary of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons Celeste Trusty and Berks County District Attorney John Adams were at the event and answered questions from attendees. Also in attendance at the event were state Rep. Johanny Cepeda-Freytiz, state Rep. Manny Guzman, Berks County Commissioner Michael Rivera, and Berks County COO Kevin Barnhardt.
Pennlive.com - Pennsylvanians should be cautious of a new scam targeting the personal information of residents receiving food assistance, state officials said Wednesday.
Residents, regardless of whether they receive food assistance, have been receiving text messages saying their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards are about to expire, that there is a pending benefit transfer for their EBT card with a reference number attached, according to the Department of Human Services.
Once the recipient responds, the scammer will ask them for person information, DHS Secretary Meg Snead said.
“DHS will never ask for information about an EBT card, SNAP, or any other public assistance programs via unsolicited or random calls or texts,” Snead said.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — January is recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Thursday, state officials asked for the public’s help to spread awareness and to put an end to human trafficking.
Human trafficking is the exploitation of people using force, fraud, or coercion for the purposes of commercial sex, forced labor, domestic servitude, and others.
According to the International Labor Organization, there are approximately 28 million victims of human trafficking, globally. State officials shared some potential warning signs:
Lack of knowledge of a person’s community or whereabouts;
Restricted or controlled communication where people cannot speak for themselves;
People not in control of their own identification documents; or
Signs of branding or tattooing of a trafficker’s name (often on the neck).
PA Officials Seek Public's Help During Human Trafficking Awareness Month
Officials say if you see something, say something. Reporting trafficking is easier than ever before and Pennsylvanians can play a major role in fighting it. According to the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), the commonwealth’s geographic location and interstate system makes it a hot-spot for traffickers.
Social Security Matter - 12/12/2022 - Are you eligible for Social Security retirement benefits or already receiving them? Did you know that you can also receive healthy meals and other nutrition services through the national Senior Nutrition Program? Local meal programs in communities across the country are waiting to serve you.
As we age, we have different needs, different ways we take care of our health, and different nutrients we need to get from our food. But we don’t always have enough healthy food or the desire to prepare or eat a meal. Whether you need more food, healthier food, someone to share a meal with, or just want to learn about good eating habits, a meal program can help.
Every day, senior nutrition programs serve almost one million meals to people age 60 and older. With home-delivered and group meal options, you can get the food you need in a way that works best for you. It can help you avoid missed meals – and save you time and money with less shopping and cooking.
Local programs serve up more than food — they offer opportunities to connect and socialize. We know this improves both your mental and physical health.
Human rights should be protected at all costs. You can get involved this Universal Human Rights Month and continue to spread the word year-round
Law360 (December 8, 2022, 1:27 PM EST) -- The COVID-19 pandemic had civil legal aid organizations scrambling to help low-income Americans in 2021, especially in the area of housing.
That's according to a report released Wednesday by the Legal Services Corp., an independent nonprofit established by Congress to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.
The report, which quantifies the work done by 132 legal aid organizations funded by the nonprofit around the country last year, showed that housing cases increased by nearly 26% from the previous year.
The cases closed by grantees in 2021 included 252,436 housing law cases and more than 208,479 family law cases, compared with about 200,398 housing law cases and 204,611 family law cases in 2020.
Historically, family cases had been the most common type of cases closed by grantees.
"An almost [26%] increase is pretty remarkable," Ron Flagg, president of the nonprofit, told Law360 Pulse Wednesday in an interview. "It just really reflects the dynamics of the pandemic — enormous unemployment and estimates of 30 million households being at risk for eviction."
As we continue to honor and celebrate veterans, scammers increase efforts around holidays — like Veteran’s Day — to try to take advantage. Right now, a banking scam is tricking veterans (and current servicemembers) into sharing sensitive personal or financial information. Find out how.
Imposters are contacting veterans, servicemembers, and their families. They pretend to be representatives of USAA Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, and other banks. They’re asking for information — like your Social Security, bank account, or credit or debit card number, or your password. They’re saying that your debit card has been blocked, they’ve detected fraudulent activity, or some other urgent excuse. (These, by the way, are all lies.)
You may get one of these unexpected calls or voicemails from your bank, or even a surprise text or email with a link that includes an official-looking logo (also all fake). These are from scammers who want your information to get into your accounts or steal your identity. And if you click on the fake link, they could install malware on your phone or computer, which could give them complete access to your device and information.
Here’s how to protect yourself:
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) helps families living on low incomes pay their heating bills in the form of a cash grant. Households in immediate danger of being without heat can also qualify for crisis grants. The cash grant is a one-time payment sent directly to the utility company/fuel provider to be credited on your bill. These grants range from $300 to $1,000 based on household size, income, and fuel type. Remember: This is a grant and does not have to be repaid.
YORK, Pa. — The Pardon Project of York County held its first legal clinic on Oct. 24 to help people with certain criminal convictions apply for pardons and expungements.
Dozens attended the clinic, where lawyers from the York County Bar Association and MidPenn Legal Services offered their services pro bono.
A criminal record can be a significant barrier to getting a job, renting an apartment, getting a loan and more. “I haven’t been able to get certain jobs,” said Tavon Parker, a York resident who received two nonviolent convictions six years ago and now does motivational speaking. “What I do with motivational speaking, there are certain boards that frown upon my history and my record. Really being able to have something that still holds you back mentally and physically is something that I’m looking forward to getting off.”
Parker learned he is eligible to request a pardon, but the process is long. It involves collecting and submitting documents, being interviewed by a parole officer, speaking before the state Board of Pardons, and finally, having the governor sign the pardon.
In the meantime, Parker is using his experience to mentor others. The Advantage Program exposes York area youth to experiences in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, civil engagement, culinary arts, athletics and business principles.
“[Having to apply for a pardon] is a part of the process that I hope our kids don’t have to go through,” he said.
To guide participants through the process, the Pardon Project assigns each person a “Pardon Fellow.”
The very first Pardon Fellow, DeShawn Harrison, said he wants to help other people move on with their lives, even as he has his own felony convictions that won’t be eligible to be pardoned for another two years.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — (September 30, 2022) McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC attorney James P. DeAngelo was recognized for his deep commitment to access to justice by MidPenn Legal Services at its Access to Justice event.
DeAngelo, commercial litigation attorney and McNees' associate general counsel, received the Donald F. Smith, Jr. MidPenn Pro Bono Award for his many years of tackling cases referred to him by MidPenn on behalf of low-income residents, his financial support of the organization and his years of service on its board.
MidPenn, a nonprofit law firm that provides free civil legal services to residents of 18 counties in central Pennsylvania, bestows this award annually to an attorney who provides his skill and expertise on a volunteer basis to support the provision of civil legal services to low-income residents.
"At MidPenn, we are all grateful for Jim's many years of support and friendship and express gratitude for his willingness to support the work we do as we strive to serve some of the most vulnerable citizens in our community," Rhodia D. Thomas, executive director of MidPenn Legal Services, said.
Wading through your health insurance options and plans can be complex, overwhelming, and confusing. Dishonest companies and scammers know this and use it to their advantage. Instead of getting the health insurance coverage you and your family need, you could end up with a so-called “health plan” that covers few if any medical expenses. And it could leave you on the hook for major medical bills. Medicare and health insurance scams are common. Scammers are always looking for new ways to steal your money and your personal information, but they use familiar techniques.
Here are five signs you’re dealing with a health insurance scam:
1. Scammers say they’re from the government and need money or your personal information. Government agencies don’t call people out of the blue to ask them for money or personal information. No one from the government will ask you to verify your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number, and they won’t ask you to wire money or pay by gift card or cryptocurrency.
If you have a question about Medicare or the Health Insurance Marketplace®, contact the government directly:
Medicare: Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
Health Insurance Marketplace®: HealthCare.gov or 1-800-318-2596
Harrisburg, PA. On September 22, MidPenn Legal Services will hold its annual Access to Justice Event at the Hershey Vineyards and Gardens from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
The “Access to Justice” event will recognize local justice heroes, who have supported the organization’s mission of providing high quality free legal representation for those who need it the most. We are excited to recognize some of our unsung heroes – volunteers, volunteer attorneys, and partner Law Firms – who have assisted MidPenn in improving the lives of low-income residents in our region.
At the event, we will also launch our Justice and Equity Center co-funded by the GIANT Company. As MidPenn Executive Director, Rhodia Thomas explained, “We are excited to partner with the Giant Company to advance this important initiative which will build our organization’s capacity for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion across our region.”
“The GIANT Company is proud to be the founding partner of Mid Penn’s Justice and Equity Center as we work to cultivate a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community,” said Jennifer Heinzen Krueger, vice president of team experience, The GIANT Company. “Guided by our purpose of connecting families for a better future, we’re passionate about doing all that we can to strengthen the communities we live, work, and play in, to create a better tomorrow for all.”
MidPenn is a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal representation, advice and education for low-income residents and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the following 18 counties in Central PA: Adams, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Centre, Clearfield, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntington, Juniata, Lancaster, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, Schuylkill and York.
For additional information, please contact Eliz Nestorov, at 717-234-0492, ext. 2215.
Harrisburg, PA -. In July, the Lancaster County Community Foundation awarded $25,000 to MidPenn Legal Services to enable the organization to build its organizational capacity for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. The Lancaster County Community Foundation’s Equity and Inclusion grant will enable MidPenn to train its staff on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion as they continue to work to provide high quality civil legal services on behalf of vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Since 1924, the Lancaster County Community Foundation has worked with people to support various socially relevant causes across Lancaster County. Today, the Foundation stewards more than $200 million dollars in community assets that help support Lancaster each year through grant programs, including initiatives, that respond to emerging community needs.
MidPenn is the largest civil legal aid organization in Central Pennsylvania that provides free legal representation in civil cases, annually serving more than 21,000 low-income residents and survivors of violence. The organization specializes in poverty-related issues, and the attorneys and advocates have developed expertise in the substantive areas of landlord/tenant law, mortgage foreclosure, Social Security, income maintenance, consumer, domestic violence, family law, elder law, and other issues affecting vulnerable and marginalized populations.
For additional information, please contact Eliz Nestorov, at 717-234-0492, ext. 2215.
NPR - The Biden administration announced last Wednesday that it would be forgiving up to $20,000 in undergraduate student loans.
Some borrowers have already seen their accounts updated, but others will have to apply for the benefit in October.
That amount may not clear the accounts for all, though, and scammers may be on the prowl promising to help eliminate any remaining debt.
Do not pay any up-front fees
It is illegal for student debt relief companies to charge you before administering a service, the Federal Trade Commission says.
Will student loan forgiveness make college tuition go up?
Don't sign up for quick loan forgiveness
Anyone who guarantees your eligibility for student loan forgiveness or promises they can get your loans forgiven faster than the timeline the Department of Education has laid out is a scammer.
Don't always trust a Department of Education logo
Scammers may use logos, names and seals to persuade you of their legitimacy. But if you have questions about your federal loans, visit the Department of Education's official financial website at https://studentaid.gov/.
Don't be rushed into a decision
Scammers will often make requests that are supposedly time-sensitive — such as missing a deadline to qualify for repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs or federal loan consolidations — in an effort to make you act quickly.
Survey Finds Rising Evictions in HUD-Assisted Housing
July 13, 2022
A survey released today of legal aid attorneys around the country finds that, despite $46.5 billion in federal emergency rental assistance and a federal law protecting tenants from hasty evictions, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continues to allow public housing authorities and voucher landlords to evict tenants from their homes at high rates, even for not paying rent due to pandemic-related hardship.
In Spring 2022, the National Housing Law Project (NHLP) surveyed 148 legal aid and civil rights attorneys in 39 states, DC, and Puerto Rico, to assess how tenants are faring in HUD-assisted housing, specifically HUD’s public housing and Housing Choice Vouchers (Section 8) programs at this point in the pandemic.
Top findings include:
HUD evictions are returning to pre-pandemic levels or higher. 83% of attorneys reported rising eviction cases across HUD-assisted housing to be the same or higher compared to pre-pandemic levels. An increase in HUD evictions for non-payment of rent means that families with the lowest incomes – primarily seniors, people with disabilities, and Black and Latino families – are the most at risk of losing affordable housing in the midst of a market with skyrocketing rents.