2022 Pro Bono Honor Roll

Download a copy of the 2022 Honor Roll

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2021.

Individuals with an asterisk completed more than 50 hours of pro bono service in 2021.

Congratulations and thank you to the dedicated legal professionals listed below. Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies provide access to justice to low-income clients in our community.

Vince Altamura

Andrew D. Atkins*

Keith Atkinson

Cynthia A. Aziz

Luis F. Benavides

Demian J. Betz

Christopher J. Brady*

Stephanie K. Briggs-Evans

Leslie Samuel Bright III

Tiffany Angela Marie Byrd

Amanda M. Colley

G. Lee Cory, Jr.

Peter J. Covington

Kevin L. Denny*

Courtney M. Duncil

Richard L. Farley

John J. Feliciano-Acosta

Christopher J. Fernandez

Faye Ann Flowers*

Kiah T. “Chip” Ford IV

Jordan Grace Forsythe

Jasmine K Gardner

Christian K Glista*

Nitin Kumar Goyal*

Lara Ann Greenberg

William N. Harris*

Charles C. Harris

Christopher A. Hicks

Anna M. Holloway

James D. Horne Jr.

Fred William Irving

Paul Kinney*

Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel

Abbey M. Krysak

Matthew Robert Lancaaster

Rene J. LeBlanc-Allman

Nicholas H. Lee

Dana Lumsden

Kayla McCann Marty

Thomas E. McNeill

Emma Claire Merritt

Elena Faria Mitchell

Rebecca A. Moriello

Kevin Patrick Murphy

Raja Nader*

Raj Natarajan

Lara Simmons Nichols

Edward M. Nogay

Olabisi Ayodele Ofunniyin

Fern A. Paterson

Kim Brett Perez*

William Carl Petraglia

Kevin Pratt

Susan Courtright Rodriguez

Melissa A. Romanzo

Robert J. Roth

Gabriela Sampaio

Jocelyn Singletary

Lindsey Laughridge Smith*

David L. Sobul

Jennifer M. Stevens*

W. Todd Stillerman

Nadira Swinton

Elizabeth McLellan Thomas

Daniel S. Trmmer

Robert Kent Warren

Mark S. Wierman

William Michael Zoffer*

North Carolina attorney volunteers!

Be sure to report your pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center to be recognized with your colleagues statewide for your service. Visit ncprobono.org/volunteer/ to learn more about the N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and statewide pro bono initiatives.

Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in a year will be inducted into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their service. Learn more and report your hours at https://ncprobono.org/report/.

Fighting for Veterans like Rocky

Rocky proudly shows off his Air Force hat as he begins to share stories of his time in the military.  Adorned with the year 1947, the year the Air Force was formed, and the phrase “No one comes close”, the hat is a reminder of his service as a radar operator in the early 1970’s.  During his time in the service, Rocky spent a year stationed in Okinawa and then later off a remote island in the South Pacific.  After his remote duty, he returned to the United States and was ultimately discharged as a Sergeant in 1975.   

The physical toll of his military service followed Rocky into older age.  His loving wife of over 25 years became his primary caregiver as he faced the onset of Parkinson’s, in addition to suffering from colitis and other agonizing physical injuries throughout his body.  During his time overseas, Rocky was exposed to chemicals linked to Parkinson’s, colitis, Crohn’s disease, and other auto immune disorders.  Like many veterans, Rocky was slow to connect his resulting medical issues to his time in the service.   

“As American soldiers we are trained to be independent.  We are hesitant to go to the Veteran’s Administration (VA) to ask for help or to get disability benefits.  It’s easy to relate to someone with a bullet wound or a shrapnel wound, but when you look like you are healthy, it is harder to see the damage that was done.” 

Rocky’s condition became so debilitating that he had to stop working in 2014.  He and his wife were forced to sell their home when their social security benefits were insufficient to cover their mortgage and his medical bills.  He knew additional benefits were available to him as a veteran, but he did not know where to start. 

“I didn’t know how to navigate the disability benefit process alone.  It was too daunting.  There is no way we would have been able to do it without help.  Thank God for Emon.” 

Emon Northe, staff attorney and Veterans Legal Services Project Coordinator at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy, became an impassioned advocate for Rocky and his wife, Celeste.  Ultimately submitting an application over 400 pages long on Rocky’s behalf, Emon worked tirelessly to help Rocky secure a grant of individual unemployability which provided access to backpay and disability benefits, as well as healthcare benefits for his wife.  Emon’s work had a lasting impact on Rocky’s long-term economic stability: 

“The disability benefits have allowed us to totally turn our lives around financially.  We were able to buy a house and make it wheelchair accessible.” 

Unfortunately, Rocky’s experience is not unique.  The VA’s disability benefit process is extremely stringent, requiring extensive documentation from the time you are hurt through the day you apply for benefits.  Rocky leaned on his wife’s thoroughness to help him supply the necessary documentation and acknowledges that not all veterans are fortunate to have that family support.  In addition, Emon’s legal experience and thorough knowledge of the benefit system meant she knew where to push for further documentation and what would ultimately be required to ensure Rocky was granted access to benefits.  Without support from family or legal representation, many veterans are left to navigate the system alone and are vulnerable to continued instability. Rocky is grateful for the Advocacy Center: 

“It gives us peace of mind that there is an organization like yours that is willing to step in for people that don’t have the money or the resources.  Having someone there for you is a blessing.  You showed me that it was not my fault.  You helped me see that I served this country and was hurt because of it.”      

During his time as a client, Rocky developed a special relationship with Emon and expresses deep gratitude for her dedication: 

“Emon went above and beyond to help us.  I would adopt her if she let me.  She was like an angel to us, but I guess angels don’t carry cell phones.” 

If you or someone you know is a veteran facing economic instability or housing insecurity, Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is here to help.  We serve low-income veterans and families in Mecklenburg, Cabarrus and Union Counties who are seeking help with disability benefit claims and appeals, discharge upgrades and over-payment issues, as well as additional civil legal matters, at little or no cost.  Learn more how we can help. 

Advocating for young immigrants like Talha

Talha has faced more challenges in his young life than some people do in their entire lifetime, but life wasn’t always difficult.  Born in Turkey, Talha grew up in a loving family with his parents and younger sister, supporters of the Hizmet Movement.  For Talha, this meant having access to one of the best sources of education in his country.  It provided him the opportunity to explore areas of study that were not accessible to the average Turkish student and introduced him to his love of robotics.  After finishing middle school in the top percentage of students nationally, Talha eagerly prepared to attend one of the best high schools in his country.  That summer, everything changed.

Known internationally as a progressive Muslim group focused on education, disaster relief, and medicine, the Hizmet Movement was blamed by Turkish political leaders for a coup attempt in July 2016.  Turkish President Erdoğan alleged the Hizmet Movement was a terrorist organization and began imprisoning Movement leaders.   Talha’s father was one of those political prisoners.

“My father was just helping people. He would travel to Somalia [to work on aid relief].  He helped people get coal in the cold winter.  He was a good man, but they arrested him.”

Talha, his mother, and little sister were left to fend for themselves.

“We had no money, nothing.  I couldn’t say my father was in the Hizmet Movement. I couldn’t tell people my father was in jail.  I had to hide myself; it was really hard.”

Two years later, faced with limited opportunities for education, Talha decided to escape to the United States at the age of 17.  He came to Charlotte to live with his father’s friend, who helped him connect to the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.  The Advocacy Center’s help came at a crucial time.

“I didn’t know how to speak, how to write, or how to read English.  I had no one around me.  I had just escaped from my country, and I didn’t know how to be a refugee.  But then my friend found Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.”

The Advocacy Center’s Immigrant Justice Program staff attorney, Kiara Vega, worked diligently to help Talha apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS).  Talha’s application for SIJS was approved and he was granted a Green Card. 

When Talha heard his request for permanent legal status was approved, he was overcome: “I was completing my college applications and I needed a Green Card, otherwise I wouldn’t be eligible for scholarships.  One day my friend went to the mailbox and brought me an envelope.  I opened it and it was my Green Card.  At that moment, you cannot even realize my happiness.  It meant college for me, it meant a future life in the US for me, it meant a lot.”

Talha believes the Advocacy Center changed his life.  He wants to improve his English, but eloquently describes what the Advocacy Center means to him:

“I was in a room, the door was locked, and I couldn’t get out.  I needed to open that door to get to my new world, into my new life.  Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy was the key.  You helped me open the door.”

Now a student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Talha’s future looks brighter as he pursues a degree in aerospace engineering.  He maintains a strong relationship with his family back in Turkey and hopes they will be able to join him some day in the United States.    He believes all his fellow Turkish citizens deserve a better future.

Your support of the Access to Justice Campaign ensures we can fight for young immigrants like Talha, providing opportunity and stable immigration status. Donate today to help us keep up the fight.

Advocating for breast cancer patients like Charlotte..

Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28, Charlotte knows how terrifying and stressful it can be to hear you are sick. But rather than address her health concerns and acknowledge what she may be feeling, Charlotte’s doctor immediately asked how she planned to pay for her treatment.  A single working mother of a 9-year-old son, Charlotte’s fears and stress levels were quickly amplified as the harsh reality of her expensive cancer treatment began to sink in.  

Concerned she would have to sell the house she had worked so hard to buy, Charlotte decided to advocate for herself. 

Charlotte learned about the Breast and Cervical Cancer Medicaid (BCCM) program from her sister who had been in contact with the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.  BCCM helps eligible women to pay for their breast and/or cervical cancer treatment.  (To be eligible, women must be uninsured or have insurance that does not cover the necessary treatment, fall at 250% of the poverty line for their family size, and are a U.S. citizen or have qualified immigration status.)  Meeting these requirements, Charlotte proactively applied to the program on her own. 

“I applied for the Medicaid program on my own and they kept denying me.  I was really stressed during [my treatment].  The hospital was sending me bills and I didn’t know what I was going to do.” 

What Charlotte did not know at the time was that to be eligible to apply for BCCM, individuals must meet eligibility criteria for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP). A BCCCP provider must then submit the BCCM application on behalf of that individual.  When she submitted the application on her own, Charlotte faced delays and hurdles in the complicated process.  

Charlotte contacted the Advocacy Center for help.  A Family Support and Health Care staff attorney at the Advocacy Center, Becca Friedman, identified the procedural roadblocks and communicated with the local agency to work towards a resolution.  Becca was able to advocate for Charlotte and Charlotte was successfully granted BCCM eligibility. 

The peace of mind Becca provided Charlotte as she underwent cancer treatment was critical: 

“If I didn’t have an advocate, the experience would have been so much more stressful.  Becca kept me updated and followed the process of my application because social services wasn’t updating me directly.  Without Becca, I don’t know what I would have done.” 

No longer plagued by the financial stress of her treatment, Charlotte was able to focus on what mattered the most: her health, her recovery, and her son. 

When asked what she wants people to know about her story, Charlotte quickly responds that she wants to help women going through the same thing.

“When you get the bad news.  That would be the first thing I would want to tell people: there is help available, you have options.” 

Charlotte is happy to say she is now cancer free, and life is slowly returning to normal.  Throughout her cancer treatment, she continued to work and re-enrolled in school.  Inspired by her journey, Charlotte is now pursuing a degree in the medical field. 

Your support of the Access to Justice Campaign ensures we can fight for neighbors like Charlotte, facing civil legal issues impacting their safety, security, and stability. Donate today to help us keep up the fight.

2021-2022 Access to Justice Champions

We are grateful for those who are leading the way to fund our effort to ensure justice for all. Your commitment to the Access to Justice Campaign ensures legal staff will be ready when one of our neighbors faces civil legal issues threatening their safety, security, and stability. We can bridge the justice gap for those in need.

These donors have contributed at the leadership level of $1,000 or more to the 2021-2022 Access to Justice Campaign benefiting Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte, bringing us closer to meeting our $500,000 goal.

Mecklenburg Access to Justice Champions sticker

Alston & Bird, LLP

Chapman and Cutler LLP

Dechert

Herrmann & Murphy, PLLC

Mayer Brown

McGuireWoods

Nelson Mullins

Seyfarth Shaw

Troutman Pepper

Winston & Strawn LLP

John Allison

Blas P. Arroyo

Catherine and Jeffrey Barnes

David and Lyn Batty

Kimberly Bischoff

Ethan Blumenthal

J. Michael Booe and Rebecca Henderson

Martin L. Brackett

Nachael Lynn Bright

A. Todd Brown

Mark Busch

Mark and Kimberly Calloway

Garland Cassada

L. Cameron Caudle

Daniel Clodfelter

John H. Cobb

Judy Seldin Cohen

Steven N. Cohen

Stephen Cox

Heather and Chris Culp

Larry J. Dagenhart

Leslee Daugherty and Roger Gilmartin

Matthew DeRuyter

Scott and Sharon Dove

James E. Earle

Douglas and Tere Ey

Richard L. Farley

Michael and Amanda Finlon

Michael and Amanda Finlon

Robert and Laurie Fisher

David A. Franchina

M. Heath Gilbert

Jonathan P. Goldberg

Dr. Matthew Gromet and Phyllis Schultz

John E. Grupp

Robert and Alicia Hahn

Robert and Christy Hancock

George and Deborah Hanna

Jessica and Burgin Hardin

Nicholas Harris

Sara Higgins and Ray Owens

Edward T. Hinson, Jr.

Carl and Patricia Horn

Daniel S. Huffenus

Benne C. Hutson

Alexis Iffert

Paul R. Kinny

Emily Kern and Mark Metz

Mark Kinghorn

William and Kathryn Kirk

Naho Kobayashi

Eric Kopfle

Stephen Luke Largess

Karol P. Mack

Mary Mandeville and Kirk Keever

Margaret and Harrison Marshall

William C. and Sloane Mayberry

Kiran and Constance Mehta

Heloise C. Merrill

Mark and Lindsay Merritt

Lisa and Ken L. Miller

John Mitchell and Linda Aberman

Luther T. Moore

Gena G. Morris

Russ Morrison & Patricia Zoder

Bryon Mulligan

Karen M. Nelson

Rany Ng

Nancy Black Norelli

Keith F. Oberkfell

Felton E. Parrish

Cyndee Patterson

Alice Richey and David Pitser

S. Benjamin Pleune

Barrett Price

J. Norfleet Pruden

Allen K. Robertson

Patrick Rogers

Emily Sagor

D. Blaine and Ann Morgan Sanders

Charles McBrayer Sasser

Timika Shafeek-Horton

Cynthia Siemasko

David Sobul

Paul and Julia Steffens

Scott Stengel

John N. Suhr

Quince Thompson

John Paul Tsahakis

Alec and Mayleng Watson

Kate Wellman

John R. Wester

Amy P. Williams

Caroline and Richard Wilson

Richard C. Worf

Julian and Amy Wright

Emily Zimmer

Julie Zydron and Eugene Griggs

*Donors as of January 31, 2022*

Want to become an Access to Justice Champion? Make a contribution to be recognized as a leader of our fundraising effort.

Access to Justice: ‘Things are smoother now.’

Before COVID-19, Melody had worked at Showmars for 22 years, whipping up the daily specials.

When someone contacts Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy for help, they are often struggling to stay afloat in a storm of crisis.

They have a big problem impacting their life but do not know how to fix it. Their problem is a symptom of various unmet legal needs that need to be addressed comprehensively to put that person on a better path.

That was the case for Melody when she contacted Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy last year. We first shared her story last fall.

Like many of our neighbors, she was already struggling when COVID-19 turned her life upside down.

As the primary financial support and caregiver for her family, she was trying to keep up with medical bills and fighting to keep her home as she faced foreclosure for unpaid property taxes from the mid-2000s left from her parents’ estate.

The Advocacy Center had helped her negotiate a payment plan with the county that included forgiveness of a substantial portion of the debt.

“When the pandemic hit, I lost my job,” Melody says. “I was devastated. I thought, ‘How am I going to make those payments?’”

Melody is used to being the one helping others. But when it came to piecing together the support her family needed to remain stable, she could not do it alone. 

Again, she called the Advocacy Center. We connected her with Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte to help her get expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act to support her family.

“I’ve worked all my life and never needed any benefits,” Melody says. “I didn’t really know how that stuff went.”

As part of our work, we learned that Melody’s sister, Wendy’s social security benefits had been terminated despite her disability. The Advocacy Center stepped back in to ensure she was receiving the benefits she was entitled to.

We also helped Wendy apply for food stamps to help their family through this crisis.  Melody would soon turn 65, so we also ensured everything was prepared for her to receive Medicare in a few short months. 

We checked in with Melody recently to see how things are going for her and her family one year into the pandemic.

It’s been hard.

She’s lost eight family members to COVID-19. In addition to not being able to physically mourn with her loved ones, she’s missed the big family get togethers held every year—egg hunts at Easter and a family reunion in September.

Melody says one thing she’s learned through her experience is “it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to not be okay.”

She compares the past year to sailing through a storm and credits the staff at the Advocacy Center for guiding her to calmer waters.

“Just knowing I had them there, I was able to stay in my boat,” she says. “Things are smoother now.”

Despite the past year, she says she is still looking for the silver lining in everything.

She hopes to return to her job whipping up the daily special at Showmars in the City of Charlotte Government Center, where she had worked for 22 years. And she dreams of one day owning her own food truck.

In the meantime, she’s glad to have her health, her family cared for and a place to call if she needs help.

She smiles every time she drives by the Advocacy Center and Legal Aid office on Elizabeth Avenue.

“Look at how much work the people in that teeny little building do!” Melody says. “The work they do, it’s needed. Because sometimes people just need a helping hand. It’s been a blessing.”

Melody, we’re glad we could help. Call us if you need anything.

Your support of the Access to Justice Campaign makes success stories like Melody’s possible. Consider making a contribution today!

2021 Pro Bono Honor Roll

Download a copy of the 2021 Honor Roll

The Mecklenburg Access to Justice Pro Bono Partners Program of Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte is pleased to recognize our committed pro bono attorneys who donated at least 20 hours of service or closed three or more cases for our clients in 2020.

Individuals with asterisks next to their names completed more than 50 hours of pro bono service in 2020.

Congratulations and thank you to the dedicated legal professionals listed below. Each of you has played a key role in helping our agencies provide access to justice to low-income clients in our community.

Stephen D. Allred

*Keith F. Atkinson

Katharine Yale Barnes

Robert Locke Beatty

Russel P. Blaise*

Linda Elise Boss

Demi Lorant Bostian*

Richard Christian Brose

Alesha Brown

Hugh Hagan Brown

Emily Lynn Cantrell

Jules Wesley Carter*

Diana C. Castro*

Avery Devin Catlin

Joy McMurry Chappell

Katherine Susie Clarke

Amanda Marie Colley

David A. Concha*

Richar H. Conner III*

G. Lee Cory Jr.*

Carly Michelle Couch*

Matthew H. Crow*

Heather W. Culp*

Kevin L. Denny

Adam Karl Doerr*

W. Scott Dove

Addison Walker Dufour

Anastasia Elizabeth Fanning

Richard L. Farley

Walter D. Fisher Jr.*

Jacob Richard Franchek*

Jasmine Kelly Gardner

Edward Staples Garrett*

Matille Clark Gibbons

Christ K. Glista*

Jeffre C. Grady*

Stephanie E. Greer Fulcher

George V. Hanna III

James T. Hedrick Jr.

William Robinson Heroy*

Karen Marie Hinkley*

Travis Styres Hinman

Thomas G. Hooper

Rebecca Joan Horton

Brett Alan Hubler

Alexis Marie Iffert

David H. Jones

Sarah B. Kemble

Mark W. Kinghorn*

Heryka Rodriguez Knoespel*

Jonathan C. Krisko

Jodie H. Lawson*

Emily H. Leazer

Nicholas Haynes Lee

Antone J. Little*

Lauren Elizabeth Lowry

Dana C. Lumsden

Jonathan Adam Martin

Hilary Renee Levine May

William C. Mayberry

Lauren Nicole McHale*

Thomas E. McNeill*

Emma Claire Merritt

Samuel Clinton Merritt*

Timoth Misner*

Elizabeth C. Murphy

Sara Elizabeth Ohlman

Fern A. Paterson

Kim Brett Perez

Kathleen Elizabeth Perkins

Benjam M. Petitto*

Benjamin Scott Pleune

Yesenia Polanco-Galdamez*

Elham Rabiei*

Jane Rattaree*

Claire J. Rauscher

Marla Tun Reschly

Etheridge Brittin Ricks*

Carlo L. Rodes

Robert J. Roth*

Brian Michael Rowlson

Lee Kimball Royster

Brett Michael Shockley

Ronald J. Shook

Courtney Crook Shytle

John N. Suhr Jr.

Nadira Aisha Swinton

Daniel Lee Tedrick*

Lauren Tonon

Nicholas Evan Tosco

Leslie Campbell Tucker III

Ann Lee Warren

R. Kent Warren

Sara Page Waugh

Brian Marlowe Weynand

Abigail Forrister Williams

Joseph Miles Wobbleton

Fred M. Wood Jr.

Karlee Nicole Wroblewski

Julian H. Wright Jr.*

Erik R. Zimmerman*

North Carolina attorney volunteers!

Be sure to report your pro bono hours to the N.C. Pro Bono Resource Center to be recognized with your colleagues statewide for your service. Visit ncprobono.org/volunteer/ to learn more about the N.C. Rule of Professional Conduct 6.1 and statewide pro bono initiatives.

Attorneys who report at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services in a year will be inducted into the NC Pro Bono Honor Society and receive a certificate from the Supreme Court of North Carolina recognizing their service. Learn more and report your hours at https://ncprobono.org/report/.

The Gift of a Second Chance

Javourya Winstead had several charges in her youth as a result of being, in her own words, “young and reckless.” Although these charges were from long ago, she still faced the collateral consequences of her past convictions.  

Javourya with her son

Criminal records significantly hinder social mobility, particularly for Black people and other communities of color. Expungement reduces the list of nonviolent offenses that will “flag” a criminal background check, which can automatically disqualify someone for a job. In addition to removing barriers to employment, research shows that expungement leads to increased wages and reduces recidivism—the possibility of someone receiving another charge or becoming re-incarcerated. 

 Eighty-five percent of our clients who seek expungements are Black. Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy is working toward eliminating the collateral consequences of the criminal justice system, giving people who deserve it a second chance, and ensuring individual’s past mistakes are not a substantial barrier to economic opportunity. With our systemic advocacy initiatives, Governor Cooper signed the Second Chance Act into law, which expands eligibility for N.C. residents to have nonviolent criminal offenses removed from their records through expunctions. 

Javourya felt that her past actions no longer reflected the person she is today: “In reality, everybody’s done something [wrong], whether you got caught or not; it’s the principle that I had to own up to it. I did it. And the only thing I can do is change.” She reached out to Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy just to see if her record could be expunged: “I hesitated because I thought, ‘I don’t know if my record’s good enough.” To her surprise, it was.  

No longer burdened with past mistakes, Javourya “felt like the world lifted off my shoulders. . .  I’ve heard ‘no’ so much because of my record that it finally feels good to be able to say sooner or later I’m going to hear a ‘yes.’”  

With her record expunged, Javourya has been able to support herself and her three-year old son and is attending school for real estate this fall. She encourages others like herself to “just make that one phone call and talk to someone at Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy because they are the professionals and know what they’re talking about. One mistake should not be a lifetime sentence.” 

Learn more about the Access To Justice Campaign here.

A “Little Safe Place on Elizabeth Avenue”

Melody in her chef uniform

Even before the pandemic, Melody and her family were facing a difficult year. Because of her husband’s heart condition and sister’s disability, Melody was the only member of her family bringing in any income, the majority of which went to paying medical bills and old property taxes her parents had left unpaid after they passed away. Melody was chipping away at the balance but could not keep up: she soon received a letter that the county would foreclose on their home. 

“I was devastated,” Melody shared, “I thought I had tried so hard to get nowhere. I was the only one working and I was putting my family in danger of losing their home.”  

Holding back tears, she still went into work the next day. Combining her love of southern food and her own Native Lumbee cuisines, Melody has been whipping up the daily special at Showmars in the Charlotte Government Center for years. A regular customer noticed she was upset and asked what was wrong. Melody explained her situation and he told her about an organization that could help: Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy.  

Melody, her husband, Jerry, and grandson

Melody quickly connected with The Advocacy Center’s Consumer Protection Unit. We assured Melody “not to worry” and worked with Melody and the county to negotiate a payment plan and that included forgiveness of substantial old tax due from the mid-2000’s. Melody and her family were no longer at risk of foreclosure; they could keep their home. In her own words, it “felt like somebody was on my side other than God himself.” 

Melody calls Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina-Charlotte “my little safe place on Elizabeth avenue,” and it’s no surprise why: 

“It brightens my day every time I drive by that building!”

As the pandemic progressed, it became clear Melody and her family had other unaddressed legal needs. Melody was worried about being able to make her payments on time after she was furloughed. She connected with Legal Aid, and soon received expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES act.  “I wouldn’t have been able to make those payments, I would’ve lost it all.” 

Melody is the proud grandmother of nine grandchildren: “Them arms around you and everything is most important, my family.”

As part of our work we learned that Melody’s sister, Wendy’s social security benefits had been terminated despite her disability. The Advocacy Center stepped back in to ensure she was receiving the benefits she was entitled to. The Advocacy Center’s Family Support and Healthcare Unit, also assisted Wendy in applying for food stamps to help their family through this crisis.  Melody would soon turn 65, so we also ensured everything was in order for her to receive Medicare in a few short months.  

After working with Melody she says, “They see you as a person and a human being. Almost like Winnie the pooh would say: ‘they’re the best.’ You can tell I watch too many cartoons with the grandkids!” 

2021 Access to Justice Champions

We are grateful for those who are leading the way to fund our COVID-19 effort to ensure safety, stability, and security for all during these uncertain times. Your support enables us to continue this important work and adapt to meet our community’s needs. Despite the challenges that this year has placed upon us, we know we can count on you.

These donors have contributed at the leadership level of $1,000 or more to the 2021 Access to Justice Campaign benefiting Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy and Legal Aid of North Carolina and bringing over our $500,000 goal.

Mecklenburg Access to Justice Champions sticker

John Mitchell and Linda MacDonald Aberman

John A. Fagg

T. Hal Clarke

Christopher and Anne Lam

Lisa Howell

Heather and Chris Culp

Paul R. Kinny

Mary Mandeville and Kirk Keever

Heloise C. Merrill

Bank of America Corporation

David Sobul

Jason and Jennifer Schubert

Alston & Bird

Brian Hayles

David and Lyn Batty

Julian and Amy Wright

Robert and Christy Hancock

Brett and Julie A. Durham

Christine and Trevor Hoke

Stephen Luke Largess

John and Meredith Jeffries

Emily Kern and Mark Metz

Robert L. Mendenhall

D. Blaine and Ann Morgan Sanders

Sean and Jacqueline Jones 

Angela H. Zimmern

Robert and Caroline Sink

Alice Richey and David Pitser

Paul and Julia Steffens

James R. Cass

Jonathan Ferry

Patricia F. Hosmer

Peter and Anne Covington

Catherine and Jeffrey Barnes

Redding Jones, PLLC

David B. Whelpley

Stewart and Anna McQueen

Porter Durham

Allen and Jennie Robertson

Jared and Courtney Mobley

George & Deb Hanna

Lisbeth B. Schorr

The McIntosh Law Firm

Jared and Courtney Mobley

Shawn McGrath

Troutman Pepper

Robert and Alicia Hahn

Matthew Robertson

Garland and Katherine Cassada

John Allison

Mark and Kimberly Calloway

Michael and Amanda Finlon

Robert and Laurie Fisher

Sara Higgins and Ray Owens

Jane and Milburn Ratteree

James and Mary Lou Babb

John Grupp

Edward T. Hinson Jr.

Margaret and Harrison Marshall

Pender R. McElroy

Dechert LLP

John Wester

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Greer Walker LLP

Scott and LouAnn Vaughn

Brian Barger

Naho Kobayashi

Karl Horn

Peter J. McGrath, Jr.

Mark and Michelle Nebrig

Douglas W. and Tere Ey

Steven N. Cohen

Corby and James William Anderson

Mark Gosnell

Katten Muchin Rosenman

Leslee Daugherty and Roger Gilmartin

Kevin and Elizabeth Murphy

Nelson Mullins

John N. Suhr

Lisa and Ken L. Miller

Cory and Katherine Hohnbaum

Bradley

Timika Shafeek-Horton

Keith F. Oberkfell

L. Cameron Caudle

Lincoln Derr

Mark Busch

W. Scott and Sharon Dove

Jessica and Burgin Hardin

J. Michael Booe and Rebecca Henderson

Jonathan P. Goldberg

Luther T. Moore

Tin, Fulton, Walker & Owen, PLLC

W. Todd & Debbie Stillerman

Kate Wellman

Sean and Jacqueline Jones

S. Benjamin Pleune

Allie Lin & Joseph Thomas

Bryon Mulligan

William C. Sloane Mayberry

Cynthia Siemasko

Bruce M. Steen

Nancy Black Norelli

McGuire Woods

My Trung Ngo

Holland and Knight

Richard Worf

Martin Brackett

Mayer Brown

Duke Energy

Nicholas Harris

Charles Alex Castle

Mayer Brown LLP

James and Mary Lou Babb

John Mitchel Aberman

Russel and Sally Robinson

Mark and Lindsay Merritt

Jameson P Wells

Alexis Iffert

John G. McDonald

Richard W. Viola

David A. Franchina

Douglass Jarrell

Matthew DeRuyter

A. Todd Brown

J. William and Susan Porter

Raj and Carter Natarajan

Charles McBrayer Sasser

Jocelyn Graham McLaughlin

Robert and Ann Cramer

Edward T. Hinson, Jr.

James Ewing

Naho Kobayashi

Staci E Rosche

David B Whelpley

Rakesh Gopalan

Brentford Martin

Katherine S Holliday

Keith Smith

Russell F Sizemore

*Donors as of March 19th, 2021*

Want to become an Access to Justice Champion? Make a contribution to be recognized as a leader of our COVID-19 effort.

Find out how.