Volunteer Spotlight: Connecting with My Community

Note from AVLF: Raj Shah’s modesty prevents him from describing how, time and again, he has served as the legal advocate and mouthpiece for destitute clients who would have no hope for justice without Raj’s help. For example, the client he writes about below was living with his children on less than $15,000 a year – well below the federal poverty guideline. Water damage caused the apartment’s ceiling to collapse and mold to flourish; the landlord only threw a tarp over the hole in the roof. Raj secured a settlement that exceeded the client’s annual income, and the results for the client were transformative.

Little did I know when I began volunteering with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation’s Saturday Lawyer Program seven years ago that AVLF would become such a meaningful part of my life. AVLF has provided me with a deep connection to the community I live and work in by introducing me to new neighborhoods, and to people I am proud to be able to connect with and help.

Recently, I had the opportunity to represent Mr. J through the AVLF Saturday Lawyer Program. Mr. J’s apartment sustained significant water damage causing mold throughout his apartment. Mr. J is a sound technician, and a result of the water damage, his sound equipment became unusable. He had complained tirelessly to his apartment management about the issue, but unfortunately to no avail.

Mr. J did not have the ability to email me pictures of the mold because he did not have an email account. When I visited his apartment to photograph the damage, I was able to help him set up an email account to make our communications easier.

I filed a renter’s insurance claim on his behalf while he searched for another safe, stable apartment community. After overcoming numerous roadblocks and fighting the typical insurance company red tape, I was able to secure a full $20,000 settlement. Mr. J could not believe we were able to get the full settlement, and he has told us that the money has helped transform his life. He has transitioned into a new safe, stable apartment community, was able to replace his damaged furniture, and was even able to acquire better sound equipment. The improved sound equipment has allowed him to bid for better paying jobs. It was an amazing experience to work with Mr. J and help him find a new home and move forward with this sound technician work.

This is just one example of how AVLF has been a wonderful outlet for me to deepen my connection with my community. While my volunteer work has focused on the AVLF Saturday Lawyers Program, AVLF offers a variety of volunteer opportunities across a broad range of issues all focused on improving our community. Make 2017 the most satisfying year of legal practice by enhancing your connection to your community through AVLF.