ACJF...Celebrating 25 years of Success Stories!

Aid to Inmate Mothers – AIM
AIM Together
($70,000 was awarded to AIM to establish & implement a Mentoring Program
to help formerly incarcerated women successfully readjust to re-entry into the community – 2017-2018)

“We have 10 women successfully matched with mentors. Some of the relationships have really taken off. For example, one of our mentors   just recently took her mentee home to see her family, whom she had not connected with in many years. In addition, her mentor has helped her enroll in the Lighthouse, helped her seek housing, and is helping her find a job. We have had two other mentees apply for college with their mentor’s help, another two have moved into independent housing. Seven out of ten have remained drug/alcohol free—the other three have had relapses, but have been able to get into treatment and regain their sobriety since. One of the women had been able to access legal help through the Public Defender’s office for an old case that is out of state.
Ms. Neal (part-time mentor coordinator) has been able to help connect (pre-release) women to much-needed legal resources and information concerning child custody, parental rights termination, and continuance of a case until release. We have found donations for the very out-of-date prison law library.

In the next 6 months, we will continue to recruit women through the prison and the parole system—as well as the County Jail. We have contacted the Jail Administrator and will be going to the jail to speak to them about the program. It is our understanding that there are very few programs provided for the women incarcerated there. AIM’s Genesis House will continue to refer residents are part of the program. We will hold two more mentor trainings and continue to measure and evaluate our success. Since our program took a couple of months to get off the ground (Mentors had to be trained first), we expect our numbers to pick up.”

Carol Potok – Executive Director, Aid To Inmate Mothers (AIM)

 ($312,500 was awarded to Legal Services Alabama to provide foreclosure prevention – 2016-2018)

“The Client is a disabled person who lives on SSD only. The mortgage company wrongfully took steps to secure his home while he still lived in it because they erroneously determined it to be abandoned. This included disabling the electricity and damaging the electrical system in the process. This caused a hardship for the client and, in addition to his medical hardship issues, caused him to fall behind on his payments. LSA tried to help the client get a modification but he was denied because they said he doesn’t live in the property and the client could not provide adequate proof that he does live there. LSA sued the mortgage company to stop the foreclosure sale from happening. The mortgage company ultimately settled the litigation by giving the client a full release of the mortgage and agreeing not to pursue any deficiency against the client. The client now owns his house free and clear.”

Jaffe Pickett – Director of Development, Legal Services Alabama, Inc.

Montgomery County Bar Foundation
 Volunteer Lawyers Program

(Civil Legal Aid)
($88,000 was awarded to MCBVLP to provide foreclosure prevention legal services– 2016-2018)

“One example of the success we’ve had in helping homeowners keep their largest asset and maintain ownership of their home cam when the wife of an elderly couple suffered a stroke approximately three (3) years ago. The house was owned outright, but held solely in the wife’s name, when she suffered a debilitating stroke landing her in a nursing home. The elderly and partially disabled husband was unaware the taxes had not been paid on the home and the house was sold in a tax sale until the buyer sent a letter stating as such. The buyer deliberately waited until the home was outside of the redemption period to notify the couple of his ownership and send a letter demanding they pay the $45,000 owed, $1,200 per month in rent or vacate the property by the end of the month. Due the elderly husband’s partial disability he was only able to work part-time and could not afford either option to keep the residence. One of our MVLP volunteer attorneys filed a cause of action for judicial intervention to redeem the home on behalf of the couple. Our MVLP volunteer attorney negotiated a settlement with the buyer which allowed the couple to redeem the home by paying the buyer’s purchase price of approximately $700 plus interest incurred. The couple’s friends, family and other community organizations helped to raise the money for them to redeem their home. Had the couple had to pay an attorney to redeem the property and the funds to redeem the property, they would have lost their home, their only asset and the husband feared the stress of losing the home would have caused her extreme set-backs in her recovery or possibly another stroke.”

Laurel Crawford – Executive Director, Montgomery County Bar Foundation VLP

Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement – SAFE

In 1996, the Alabama Civil Justice Foundation awarded a $5,000 grant to the City of Sylacauga to plan for a support system for families in their community. Twenty years later, SAFE (Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement) has leveraged $34 million dollars to support and strengthen families and children in this relatively small East Alabama community. Some return on an investment!

Several hundred supporters of SAFE came to Sylacauga recently to celebrate its 20th Anniversary.  Among those there were ACJF Board Members Marsha Folsom and Mary Jolley, and ACJF Executive Director Sue McInnish.

“ACJF has witnessed SAFE’s impact in Sylacauga go beyond any of our expectations, but, others across the state have also taken notice,” McInnish said. “SAFE is known far and wide as evidence of what can happen when determination, innovation, and genuine concern, coupled with the outstanding Family Resource Center model, happen in a community.”
Congratulation SAFE!

For more information on SAFE for to
For more information on the Alabama Network of Family Resource Centers go to


Alabama Partnership for Children 

Your IOLTA Participation with ACJF – helped Montgomery parents in high risk environments learn good parenting techniques and engage through unconditional support with peers in their own community.

THANKS to YOU! – ACJF has used your IOLTA contributions to fund the Alabama Partnership for Children which recently celebrated the graduation of a Montgomery group of the Alabama Parent Leadership Network. These young parents spoke about how much their weekly meetings have helped them grow as parents not only through parenting instruction, but also by fostering meaningful relationships with other parents in their community. While discussing their experiences with the program, one graduate even compared her weekly meetings to group therapy- a safe place to learn how to become a better parent with the unconditional support of her understanding peers.

Sight Savers America

Your IOLTA Participation with ACJF – helped some 17,000 children in underserved counties in Alabama’s Appalachian Region to receive a head to toe health screening which for many will be their only such check-up this year.


ACJF provided support to Sight Savers America for their KidCheck Plus health screening program, a comprehensive school-based health screening program that will be provided over 16,000 preschool–12th grade students this year throughout 26 North Alabama underserved counties. The screenings cover vision and dental care among other services and include comprehensive case-managed follow ups to make sure that every child receives the healthcare they deserve. ACJF’s grant enabled Sight Savers to receive matching federal dollars for this program.


Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program
Your IOLTA Participation with ACJF – helped an elderly gentleman and his wife, whose only income is Social Security, win a debt collection case against a collector with no evidence. Thank You!
THANKS to YOU! – Your IOLTA participation has helped ACJF provide funding to the Madison County Volunteer Lawyers Program who just this past quarter assisted an elderly gentleman and his wife who live off Social Security and are barely able to meet their basic needs. 
After being sued by a debt collector, MCVLP provided the client with a volunteer attorney.  The attorney objected to the lack of evidence for the debt presented by the debt collector’s attorney, resulting in an eventual verdict in favor of the client.  After asking his attorney about his usual fee, the client’s eyes welled with tears upon realizing he would not have been able to afford such quality representation let alone any judgement that could have been entered against him.  He believed that MCVLP and his volunteer lawyer had given him a fresh start.

South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program
Your IOLTA Participation with ACJF – helped a heart patient prepare an advanced directive and a will before having heart surgery.
Just this past June, the South Alabama Volunteer Lawyers Program, supported by an ACJF grant, was able to assist a client that needed an advanced directive and a last will and testament prepared before a scheduled heart surgery. He was promptly given a volunteer attorney and was able to schedule a meeting within three days to have the needed legal documents prepared. The SALVP – with the support of lawyers that volunteer their time and expertise – provides a vast array of services to those in need of legal assistance in Mobile, Clark and Washington Counties. 

Childcare Resources
($25,000 was presented to build the capacity of Childcare Resources in AL – June 2014)

“I have a 15-month old daughter who is the light of my life, after being told that I would never be able to have a child she came as both a surprise and a blessing to my life. I was diagnosed with Lupus 11 years ago and it has truly been a
struggle because I was unable to work for a very long time. I have since gone back to work and enjoyed being a mom. Working with Myra Davis and the staff at Childcare Resources has really helped me to maintain a sense of stability and peace of mind in knowing that my child is cared for in a safe, clean and structural facility that I can afford with the financial assistance I receive from the program. I don’t know how I can make it through the day but I press on for the smile I see on my daughter’s face when I take her and pick her up from school. I am thankful that she is able to attend daycare and learn because she is very smart and active. I will always be appreciative to Childcare Resources because not only did the program help my daughter but it was like therapy and relief for me and a weight lifted off of my shoulders because I don’t have to worry about who will help me pay for child care.”   Joan Wright – Executive Director, Childcare Resources, Birmingham, AL

Tuscaloosa’s One Place
($100,000 is being presented to strengthen Family Resource Centers in AL – Jan. 2013)

“Melissa” came to Tuscaloosa’s One Place unemployed and very depressed. She enrolled in our JOBS  class to develop the skills she needed to get a job. With lots of encouragement from our staff, she successfully completed class…

“Several months later she returned to the Center with a GED certificate which she had just earned. She told me, ‘I’m not going to stop…I’m going to Shelton State Community College.’ One and one half years later she returned to the Center with her certificate from Shelton State. Once again, she said, ‘I’m not going to stop…I’m going to the University of Alabama.’ Two years later she returned with her diploma from the University, and she also had a job at the University!!!

Melissa tells us that no one else has ever believed in her like the staff at Tuscaloosa’s One Place…She says that we not only helped her make changes in her life, but in the lives of her children too…And she still refers other people to us as being the place that ‘treats you like a person, not a number.’”    

Teresa Costanzo – Director, Tuscaloosa’s One Place, a Family Resource Center

Montgomery County Bar Foundation VLP      
In conjunction with the Alabama State Bar VLP

In November of 2012, a group of low income individuals who were long term residents of a large Montgomery inn came to the Montgomery pro bono civil legal clinic. The individuals had been living at the inn for multiple years and were being evicted with only two weeks’ notice. Due to the timing of the eviction and the lack of notice the tenants were unable to save enough money to find new housing in such a short amount of time.

Two Montgomery lawyers met with the clients and volunteered to take the case on a pro bono basis to attempt to get these individuals additional time to find new housing before having to move out of the inn. The lawyers researched the potential claims of the clients and determined that they should be treated as tenants under Alabama law and therefore the clients were, in fact, entitled to additional notice prior to eviction.

Although the representatives for the inn were initially hostile to the idea of allowing the tenants additional time to find new housing, the volunteer lawyers argued that the tenants were entitled to the additional time and that the inn was violating their clients’ legal rights by evicting them on such short notice.

After substantial negotiations the inn ultimately agreed to allow the tenants to stay an additional 3 weeks rent free. This period of rent free housing allowed tenants to save up money and find new housing, and ultimately prevented many of them from being homeless for a period of time. While the clients were initially only looking for additional time to find housing, the rent free nature of the additional time obtained through the clinic’s volunteer lawyers allowed several of the clients and their families to obtain improved housing.

Timothy J. Gallagher – President, Montgomery County Bar Foundation Volunteer Lawyers Program.
Prior to the establishment of the Montgomery County Bar Foundation in early 2013, the Montgomery County Bar Association’s pro bono work was done with the coordination of the State Bar VLP.

Parents and Children Together (PACT)  

($100,000 is being presented to strengthen Family Resource Centers in AL – Jan. 2013)

“A five-year-old little girl was sleeping in class. The teacher asked her why she was so sleepy. The child replied that her family was living in a small car. It was mid-August and the temperature was 98 degrees.

“The girl’s mother was a single woman with three children and a job working at a local plant. A medical emergency had put her finances so far behind that she lost her housing. The Mother worked the night shift and took her childrenin conjunction with the Alabama State Bar VLP with her to sleep in the car. 

“The teacher contacted our agency to help this family put their lives back together. We were able to help her budget, network with local agencies, and locate resources to help the family secure housing, child care, and learn to live within a budget that would give this family security for their basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, and the most important factor – family.”

Parents and Children Together, Inc. (PACT – the Family Resource Center in Decatur)

The Center For Families of Jefferson County
($100,000 is being presented to strengthen Family Resource Centers in AL – Jan. 2013)

“Denise” and her son came to the Center for Families because her son was being bullied at school.  Her son was enrolled in counseling.  Denise also let the counselor know she was facing some hard times due to losing her job. Denise was enrolled in case management so the family’s needs were examined and services to meet those needs could be individualized.  Among other services, the Center helped Denise write her resume; helped find the family new housing; and helped her son overcome his issues at school. 
They now have a new car and the family is in a townhouse due to better employment.  Her son is a straight A student and Denise has become a volunteer at the Center and even serves on the Advisory Board for the Center.
Regina Allison, Program Director, The Center for Families of Jefferson County (a family resource center)