Pictured: Students Douglas Wortman and Morgan Davis.
On Saturday, September 22, 2012, Widener Law School alumni, students, and faculty from the Harrisburg Campus served as legal volunteers for veterans and their families by helping to launch the First Annual Service, Support & Resource Showcase Event at New Hope Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Volunteers connected with local veterans and other underserved members of the community to explain how they might access lawyers, how to navigate legal referral services, and how to select an attorney from a bar association pro bono pool of lawyers. The Pennsylvania Bar Association – Minority Bar Committee, the Dauphin County Bar Association, Mid-Penn Legal Services, and the Harrisburg Civil Law Clinic
of Widener University School of Law donated informational pamphlets and brochures for this project. Private law firms specializing in veterans affairs also contributed to the resources on hand for the day.
According to Professor Starla Williams
, who organized legal volunteers for the event, this endeavor allowed advocates and future lawyers to support local vets who need to overcome the “justice deficit” or lack of affordable legal services available in the region. She estimates that over 100 veterans from the Iraqi War, the conflict in Afghanistan, and other non-combat vets participated in Saturday’s activities. The Showcase Event for Veterans was sponsored by the Pennsylvania Service Connect Team, a new initiative of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In partnership with the City of Harrisburg and the Dauphin County Department of Human Services, SAMHSA addresses the needs of local veterans. Harrisburg was one of only thirteen sites in the nation selected for this unique venture.