Community Action celebrates the Skagit Bar Association’s launch of Skagit Legal Aid as a new nonprofit organization. Since 1986, Community Action has been the nonprofit home for the Volunteer Lawyer Program in partnership with the Skagit Bar Association.
“We were happy to foster the growth of this important community service because access to civil legal aid is a critical service that intersects in many ways with Community Action’s anti-poverty mission,” said Bill Henkel, Executive Director of Community Action of Skagit County. “When people come to us for one of our many other services, we screen for legal needs that could improve access to housing stability, access to benefits for seniors and veterans, and other ways for families to get ahead.”
While a program of Community Action, the Skagit Volunteer Lawyer Program in partnership with the Bar launched a Housing Justice eviction prevention clinic, assisted hundreds of young people from Skagit County to apply for DACA (Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals), provided civil legal aid for individuals and families, and more. “We’re excited for the continuation of projects such as our twice-monthly legal clinics at Community Action’s East County Resource Center in Concrete, and the innovative partnership recently launched with Catholic Community Services Farmworker Center,” said Henkel.
“With the utmost confidence in their current leadership, we look forward to many years of continued partnership serving the Skagit community,” Said Lynn Christofersen, Community Action Division Director who has provided agency leadership for the Volunteer Lawyer Program.
Noting the impact of community volunteers at all levels of the agency, Christofersen said, “We value the incredible contributions of many local attorneys over the years, without whom the program would not succeed.” She noted the founding leadership of attorney Gail Smith, who continues to dedicate many volunteer hours per week to its success, and the vision of Bill Shuler, former Community Action executive director who is now retiring as a Port Commissioner.
Community Action has a history of helping to launch mission-aligned programs and projects that grow into becoming programs of other agencies and independent nonprofit organizations. “Together, we can do more than we can on our own,” Henkel said.
Community Action started the Home Trust of Skagit, which is now a valued independent nonprofit partner. The mutli-service Community Action agency also launched the Skagit County Alliance for Healthcare Access, which became Population Health Trust, now administered by Skagit County, and Community Action provided administrative support for the Migrant Student Leaders Club at Mount Vernon High School to publish their first book, Dream Fields, and build capacity for student leadership development.
“We’re grateful for the volunteers, partners and donors who make this innovation possible,” said Henkel.
For more information about Community Action of Skagit County’s range of services, go to www.CommunityActionSkagit.org, or call 360 416-7585.