Skip to content

Legal Aid Society of Orange County provides free legal services

Going to court can be an intimidating and costly process.For so many, getting the help or services they needs means pleading your case before a judge, and that is where our WESH 2 CommUNITY Champion comes in. The Legal Aid Society of Orange County is a free service for those who can’t afford a traditional attorney.They help in everything from family law to housing issues.It was never even a question for Andrea Elmellouki.Within months of fostering King, Carter, and Elijah, the long-time foster mother and her husband fell in love. “Unfortunately, their mother wasn’t able to do enough to get them back. And so they went up for adoption, and we adopted them,” Elmellouki said The immediate connection was undeniable. ” Elijah, he is four, he just turned four yesterday, “Elmellouki said. “This is Carter, he turned five today.” “And then we have King, who’s seven. He’s in first grade,” Elmellouki said. “He likes Japanese animation and drawing.” “You want candy? Oh my goodness. Yeah, it’s your birthday. We’ll get some candy in a little bit, ok,” Elmellouki said to Carter.It’s the fourth year Carter will be celebrating his birthday in this home and the first since he was officially adopted, a journey the Legal Aid Society of Orange County helped navigate from start to finish. Established in the early 1960s, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County provides free legal services to those at 125% of federal poverty guidelines and below. stepping in to help when Carter needed occupational therapy. Dependency cases aren’t their only focus. Housing cases took center stage when COVID-19 crippled parts of the economy. Executive Director Bethanie Barber says the organization launched a virtual housing and clinic in response, manned by staff and volunteer attorneys from the Orange County Bar Association. Barber says family law advice, consumer law cases and immigration cases also keep them busy around the clock. The office itself boasts 50 full-time staff members, but around 1,600 to 2,000 volunteer attorneys in Orange County dedicated their time to help the organization serve the community as well. stops. The rewards make the long hours all the more worth it. “When you help children, who have never had a permanent home, have a permanent home, when you help a veteran discharge debt, when you help a senior citizen, have stable housing, there’s nothing better in this world,” Barber said. “And that’s what we do every single day,” Barber said. Many Florida counties have their own legal aid society to provide pro bono legal services for those who can’t afford them.We have the links to them on the CommUNITY Champions page. All year we are spotlighting people and groups who are working to help uplift our community.Do you know someone who should be a WESH 2 CommUNITY Champion? Nominate them either on our website or send us an email at communitychampion@wesh.com.

Going to court can be an intimidating and costly process.

For so many, getting the help or services they needs means pleading your case before a judge, and that is where our WESH 2 CommUNITY Champion comes in.

The Legal Aid Society of Orange County is a free service for those who can’t afford a traditional attorney.

They help in everything from family law to housing issues.

It was never even a question for Andrea Elmellouki.

Within months of fostering King, Carter, and Elijah, the long-time foster mother and her husband fell in love.

“Unfortunately, their mother wasn’t able to do enough to get them back. And so they went up for adoption, and we adopted them,” Elmellouki said.

The immediate connection was undeniable.

“Elijah, he is four, he just turned four yesterday,” Elmellouki said. “This is Carter, he turned five today.”

“And then we have King, who’s seven. He’s in first grade,” Elmellouki said. “He likes Japanese animation and drawing.”

“You want candy? Oh my goodness. Yeah, it’s your birthday. We’ll get some candy in a little bit, ok,” Elmellouki said to Carter.

It’s the fourth year Carter will be celebrating his birthday in this home and the first since he was officially adopted, a journey the Legal Aid Society of Orange County helped navigate from start to finish.

Established in the early 1960s, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County provides free legal services to those at 125% of federal poverty guidelines and below.

While in the foster care system, the organization checked in on King, Carter, and Elijah regularly – even stepping in to help when Carter needed occupational therapy.

Dependency cases aren’t their only focus.

Housing cases took center stage when COVID-19 crippled parts of the economy.

Executive Director Bethanie Barber says the organization launched a virtual housing and advice clinic in response, manned by staff and volunteer attorneys from the Orange County Bar Association.

Barber says family law cases, consumer law cases and immigration cases also keep them busy around the clock.

The office itself boasts 50 full-time staff members, but around 1,600 to 2,000 volunteer attorneys in Orange County dedicated their time to help the organization serve the community as well.

It’s a powerful purpose, driven by community need and the need for legal help never stops.

The rewards make the long hours all the more worth it.

“When you help children, who have never had a permanent home, have a permanent home, when you help a veteran discharge debt, when you help a senior citizen, have stable housing, there’s nothing better in this world,” Barber said.

“And that’s what we do every single day,” Barber said.

Many Florida counties have their own legal aid society to provide pro bono legal services for those who can’t afford them.

We have the links to them on the CommUNITY Champions page.

All year we are spotlighting people and groups who are working to help uplift our community.

Do you know someone who should be a WESH 2 CommUNITY Champion?

Name them either on our website or send us an email at communitychampion@wesh.com.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.