Jim Barrett

For people living in poverty, unable to fight for their rights and in some cases even for their lives because they can’t afford the things they need, hiring an attorney is impossible. Our Person of the Week leads an organization that defends them for free.He has been called the heart and inspiration of a group who have made it their business to give a voice to the voiceless.Pisgah Legal Services is a beautiful sight for those living in poverty.Roughly 20% of the kids are below poverty level.Executive Director Jim Barrett has been helping free of charge for 30 years. They are people who are homeless. They are people being abused.17 staff attorney’s and 300 more who volunteer in Western North Carolina, are going to court for those who otherwise can’t.Jim Barrett, my first client was a woman who needed unemployment benefits and she was clearly eligible and she won those benefits. Then she made me chocolate chip cookies.As Pisgah Legal celebrates 35 years, they also celebrate Jim Barrett’s leadership.Shelley Brown, attorney, he cares so much about poverty and the people in poverty.Kerry Friedman, attorney, let me put it to you this way. In 2008 we came up with the idea of trying to raise money for a building… I’m sorry.Jim led the effort to move his staff from the old location, a home on Montford Avenue, to a place with more room.They now have more attorney’s and serve almost twice as many people, 1300 last year alone.Under his leadership, PLS has helped other non-profits get up and running. And he’s had to focus on preventing a loss of staff while facing government spending cuts.Because there are certain kinds of cases where you can make all the difference in the world.To learn more about Pisgah Legal Services, who qualifies for help, or how you can volunteer and help them click here.

Asheville's Jubilee Community Church - Wall Street Asheville

http://JubileeCommunity.org is a Church located in Downtown Asheville NC. They welcome everyone, whatever their creed, backround, or lifestyle to join them to follow God’s call to life. Since 1989, Jubilee has committed to making our Asheville community and world better. Some of the agencies that receive gifts from Jubilee is The Mediation Center, Caring for Children, Habitat for Humanity, MANNA Food Bank, Meals on Wheels, Pisgah Legal Services, Boys & Girls Club, Eblen, Mountain Housing Opportunities, Affordable Housing, Homeward Bound, M.A.I.N, Emma Family Resources, All Souls Counseling Center, and many more.

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Person of the Week: Bill Whalen

When the most vital needs in life are threatened, our Person of the Week goes to bat for thousands of people.

Attorney Bill Whalen has a reputation in the Asheville community beyond his work at Pisgah Legal Services. His heart wins in the courtroom and his tenacity won us. News 13’s Hope Hanselman explains how North Carolina’s Bar Association is thanking him.

Where calls for help always get an open ear, you’ll find a man whose listened to them all. Bill Whalen has given a piece of his heart to nearly 10,000 people who can’t afford to pay him back. “I feel like I come to work every day with instructions to do all I can to help people,” he says.

Whalen has given Pisgah Legal Services 33 years, but he’s given families like the Fields much more, a future, in a home of their own. Lindsay and Adam Fields say they fell behind on mortgage payments when the economy tanked. “We were stressed, we were kind of in the middle of an economic crisis, financially freaked out and it’s hard to ask for help,” says Lindsay.

The family of four couldn’t accept what foreclosure would mean to 10-year-old Tobin. “I do remember us on summer nights going outside and laying out in the grass and looking up at the stars,” says Tobin. “It’s not just about the money and the finances, but yeah, we were possibly looking at leaving our home and uproot and it’s our first home. We had a lot of dreams,” says Lindsay.

Whalen fought for two years in the courtroom. “We don’t give up, especially in this foreclosure world, its tough and it takes a lot of effort,” he says. Eventually bringing the Fields off the brink, and back home. “To have a pro bono legal services for people who really don’t have any other means and to have some one like Bill who is willing to fight for you, I mean that’s invaluable,” says Adam.

That’s what inspired the North Carolina Bar Association to grant him the coveted Deborah Greenblatt Outstanding Legal Services Attorney Award. “Bill truly sets the standard, you strive to work as hard as Bill does he is very dedicated, he’s outspoken for his clients,” says Jacqueline Grant with the 28th Judicial District Bar. An honor for a man who has proved over the last 33 years, happy ending means a new beginning.

The attorneys at Pisgah Legal Services work pro bono on poverty law cases, to prevent homelessness and improve housing conditions. Whalen says he’s most honored to be working in a community so recognized for its dedication to pro bono work.

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. — A convicted, violent offender is now charged with raping a 12-year-old girl.

Jeffery Childers made his first court appearance Monday morning on those charges. In 2012, he was sentenced to prison for beating his ex-girlfriend so badly he knocked her teeth out.

“I thought I was dead,” Teresa Spencer, Childers ex-girlfriend, told our News 13 crews in the summer of 2012. “I’ve got no teeth back here, which teeth I do have they’re trying to save for me.”

Spencer said Childers broke her jaw and knocked 11 teeth out during a fight. She went to Pisgah Legal Services for help protecting herself, but the damage done wouldn’t be the end of his trouble with the law.

“There are names that we remember, that we see over and over again,” Erin Wilson, an attorney with Pisgah Legal Services, said.

When we told Wilson the same man was in court again Monday morning with handcuffs on, he replied “It’s not surprising. There are a lot of people that we see coming back with different types of abuse in the future that they have committed against subsequent victims.”

Wilson says the court systems aren’t locking up domestic violence offenders for long enough.

According to the Department of Corrections, Childers didn’t even serve a full year for the charge from Spencer’s beating. He was freed after 11 months.

“There needs to be stricter penalties for domestic violence abusers,” Wilson said.

Childers was out for just four months before back behind bars on another conviction. It was during that short window of time deputies say he assaulted and raped a 12-year-old.

He is expected back in court on May 4.

Buncombe County officials have teamed up with Pisgah Legal Services for a major campaign to end domestic violence recidivism.

For more information, click here.
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Financial and Zoning Incentives

The 2017 Housing Summit, hosted by Pisgah Legal Services, City of Asheville, and Buncombe County, brought together policy experts, local government officials, developers, and community partners for a day of discussions on affordable housing issues in Western North Carolina. Visit www.pisgahlegal.org to learn more.
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Panel Part III: How to Get Involved

October 25th following the film screening of Priced Out at the Asheville Habitat ReStore, three panelists discuss the affordable housing crisis, gentrification and solutions- Justin Edge of Pisgah Legal Services, Dewana Little of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Land Trust and Sydeny Monshaw of Asheville Habitat. This is broken into three parts.

Java For Justice

Buying a cup of coffee today can help low-income people right here in our community. Today is the annual Java for Justice!

Area coffee shops and cafƒs are raising money and awareness for local nonprofit Pisgah Legal Services (PLS).

Proceeds from the fundraiser will support Pisgah Legal’s work to provide free civil legal aid to help low-income Western North Carolinians by preventing homelessness, stopping domestic violence and child abuse, and securing health care.

Participating coffee shops in Asheville and Hendersonville include:
City Bakery at 60 Biltmore Avenue and 88 Charlotte StreetBruegger’s Bagels at 671 Merrimon Avenue and 160 Hendersonville RoadHigh Five Coffee Bar at 190 Broadway StreetIzzy’s Coffee Den at 74 North Lexington AvenueWest End Bakery at 757 Haywood RoadMosaic Cafƒ in Biltmore Park Town SquareJongo Java, 117 S. Main St. in HendersonvillePeople who make donations at any of the participating coffee shops can also enter for a chance to win six months of free coffee from Counter Culture Coffee.

Radio personalities from Asheville Radio Group stations Mix 96.5 and 98.1 The River will broadcast live from City Bakery (on Biltmore) and Bruegger’s (on Merrimon Ave).

At all locations, Pisgah Legal Services’ ambassadors will be on site to provide information and accept donations.

Java for Justice coffee shops and cafes will be accepting donations for Pisgah Legal Services from May 14th through May 23rd.

Attorneys who volunteer at Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance were asked why they do pro bono work.
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