Even under the best of conditions, legal issues can be confusing and intimidating. Add the complication of HIV, and legal problems can quickly become debilitating and life-altering. Last year, the Capital Area AIDS Legal Project (CAALP) helped 109 clients, including Food Bank volunteer and Viva RED committee member Kelly Alexander, who was being threatened with eviction.
“If I mess up even by a little [with my finances], I’m out of luck,” Kelly explains. Last summer, Kelly lost his medical premium assistance. His application renewal was due in July, but because of the Independence Day Holiday, it was delivered a day late through the mail. This meant Kelly would have to apply all over again from the beginning, a process that can take weeks. As he worked to focus on his health and stay on his medications, he fell behind on rent.
In October, he found a handwritten eviction notice on his door. “It seemed shady,” so he reached out to his social worker, who referred him to CAALP for legal counsel.
Armed with the advice from his lawyer (who agreed the note wasn’t appropriate) and some help from the Paul Kirby Emergency Fund, Kelly was able to stay in his apartment for another 30 days.
CAALP, which helps more than 100 clients each year, serves as a safety net and support for people facing difficult decisions and medical issues. ASA’s volunteer attorneys work on cases ranging from documenting end-of-life wishes, transferring power of medical attorney, mitigating bankruptcy, and advocating on behalf of anyone threatened with eviction.
It’s because of Kelly’s experience as a client that he volunteers at ASA. (Check out the volunteer page to see Kelly’s motivating video!)
“Volunteering gives me something that’s not a job or school, but that I want to excel at. I’m helping people exactly like me. And I want to show people they can do it too!”
Every Spring, ASA hosts a fundraising event called Viva just for CAALP. In years past, it was Viva Las Vegas, but this year, we’re going RED! The event features live entertainment, a silent auction, delicious culinary bites, and faux gambling.
Kelly joined the Viva RED event committee earlier in the year to give back. “I like being part of a group working towards a goal that will help other people in the long run.”
After a rough year, Kelly is looking forward to Viva RED being a night of excitement. “It’s flashy, and you get to dress up! Who doesn’t like that?” But don’t let the glamor distract you from the event’s real cause: “[Hopefully] just one person recognizes we’re doing a good thing that night… I feel there is good out there, and good in acknowledging those successes.”