HONOLULU, HAWAII – The Board of Directors of Lawyers for Equal Justice (LEJ) is proud to announce that LEJ is joining with 16 other public interest justice centers in the United States and Mexico affiliated with the Appleseed organization. LEJ’s new name is the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.
LEJ is a Hawaii nonprofit, 501(c)(3) public interest law firm that was created to advocate on behalf of low income individuals and families in Hawai`i on civil legal issues of statewide importance. The program has successfully resolved a number of class action cases that have made significant improvements in the lives of many low income individuals including disabled tenants in public and private housing, educational guarantees for homeless children and health care for Micronesians. It has also assisted veterans in securing their rights.
The national office for Appleseed is located in Washington, D.C. and supports the work of the 17 Centers. The Centers function as independent organizations linked into a national network. Each Center recruits its own staff and leadership, raises its own sources of funding, and develops its own projects and strategies for reform. Additionally, Centers work actively with the national office of Appleseed on collaborative projects, many of which grow out of local work of single Centers in such areas as education, financial access and health care. All Centers rely on a combination of staff and pro bono volunteers to conduct project work. Most of the Centers have similar missions and are engaged in activities that aim to address many of the same problems that LEJ addresses.
The benefits of the new Appleseed affiliation are significant for LEJ. They enhance its ability to:
- Gain from the successful experience of other Centers on similar work;
- Collaborate on national initiatives that will impact the lives of clients in Hawaii;
- Access financial support from national and local foundations;
- Expand the use of administrative and legislative advocacy as alternatives to litigation;
- Meet periodically with staff from the other 16 Centers to discuss emerging issues that are affecting our clients and explore appropriate responses; and
- Diversify LEJ’s funding base to increase its long term stability and opportunities for growth.
“I couldn’t be more delighted and honored that LEJ is joining the Appleseed network,” said Appleseed’s Executive Director Betsy Cavendish. “Victor Geminiani and the organization he leads have secured real victories for veterans, for the disabled, for homeless kids seeking their educational rights, for victims of maltreatment and improper administration of government benefits programs. They use the law to combat poverty and its effects, and to secure the promise of our Constitution for everyone. The Appleseed network will be stronger with LEJ as a colleague organization.”
“We wanted to link our work to an effective mainland organization that shares our values: fairness, opportunity, community, partnership, responsibility, and ensuring equal access to justice,” said David Reber, President of LEJ. “LEJ studied various models and decided that Centers in the Appleseed network were doing work we admired, and that membership in the network could help share our work at a national level.”
“The recent census report on the dramatic increase in poverty throughout our nation underlines the critical importance of increasing civic engagement and organizing for effective social change through organizations like Appleseed and Hawai’i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice to ensure justice for all” said LEJ’s Executive Director, Victor Geminiani.
LEJ is planning a reception on November 17th to share with the community further information about its work and its new affiliation with the Appleseed network.
For additional information, contact Victor Geminiani, Executive Director of the Lawyers for Equal Justice, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (808) 587-7605 or David Reber, a partner at the law firm Goodsill Anderson Quinn and Stifel LLP, by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (808) 547-5611. LEJ’s web site (www.lejhawaii.org) has more information on program activities.