Our Stories

Antelope Valley Students Fight for Families' Rights

Charter College student and CARES volunteer Laura Graham

Los Angeles residents in need count on critical public services to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads. For nearly 25 years,  Public Counsel volunteers from major firms and local colleges and universities  have been on the front line for some of these Angelenos in need.

Public Counsel volunteers work one-on-one with people in social services offices to make sure they understand their rights and get the services they need. That's the mission of Public Counsel CARES-Connecting Angelenos to Resources and Essential Services (formerly known as the General Relief Advocacy Project).

Students at Charter College in the Antelope Valley know why it matters. A class of future paralegals has adopted their community, where people affected by the economic crisis crowd the local social services office.

"I've been on the other side where I was literally homeless, I was living on the street," said Bonnie Allison, who is now studying to be a paralegal. "So I know how hopeless you are, like nothing is ever going to go right in your life. You can't go apply for a job when you haven't been able to shower and you have no clean clothes. I know how that feels."

"When people get the benefits they need it is life changing," said her classmate Laura Graham. "It's connecting people to things that they wouldn't otherwise have had access to like shelters, clinics, food banks, even rights that they don't know they have."

We connect people to services that help them find a job, keep their home, escape domestic violence or recover from substance abuse. Public Counsel volunteers provide resources and information on benefits including General Relief, CalFresh (formerly known as Food Stamps), CalWORKs, and Medi-Cal.

We advocate for positive changes in the nation's largest social service system by combining policy advocacy and direct legal services to expand social service in LA County, to protect legal rights and keep clients in their homes and off the streets.

We couldn't do this without our remarkable volunteers, like the students at Charter College. If you would like to get involved, please visit out CARES page.