Stories of hope and help
Did you ever wonder how IOLTA monies are used to support legal
aid? Every day, MBF grantee organizations advocate for
Massachusetts' most vulnerable citizens and families. Their work
facilitates access to basic human needs, such as shelter, food,
safety, and above all, justice. Last year, MBF grantees helped
85,000 clients in need. Below is a small sample of the stories of
those who received critical services funded by the MBF IOLTA Grants
Program, conveyed to the Foundation through recent year-end
The Immigration Legal Services Program of Lutheran Social
Services, a multi-service agency in Worcester, has received grant
funding from the MBF for almost 10 years. Since 2003, the MBF has
awarded over $335,500 in grants to this organization that provides
critical legal assistance to immigrants across the commonwealth,
with a focus on asylum seekers and victims of human trafficking.
This is just one of the many stories LSS has shared where IOLTA
funding has made a true difference:
Lei fled China after several government-forced abortions to
escape her violently abusive husband. She arrived in the United
States, but was unable to afford an attorney to apply for asylum.
In order to pay a private attorney, she started work in a massage
parlor in Massachusetts. While working, her employer sexually
assaulted her and forced her to provide sexual services. Shortly
thereafter, law enforcement came to the massage parlor and arrested
Lei for prostitution. Scared and traumatized, Lei eventually told
the police her story and she was referred to Lutheran Social
Services as a victim of human trafficking.
An LSS attorney represented Lei, preliminarily obtained
temporary immigration status for her as a trafficking victim, and
then applied for asylum for Lei based on her victimization in
China. Thanks to Lutheran Social Services, Lei has been granted
asylum, has secured permanent housing, and a new job. The LSS
attorney is now working to reunite Lei with her minor son, who
remains in China. Hopefully, mother and son will soon have the
chance to build a new life together in Massachusetts.
"Without an LSS attorney, funded through the Massachusetts Bar
Foundation, Lei likely would not have found effective legal
representation to navigate the complex immigration system in the
United States, leaving her potentially subject to deportation.
Instead, she received comprehensive legal and social services that
allowed her to exit out of prostitution, receive permanent legal
status, and build a comprehensive support system in the United
States. Today, she is flourishing," said LSS Managing Attorney
Julie Dahlstrom. "Simply put, none of this would have been possible
without MBF funding."