The Austin Young Lawyers Association is sponsoring its eighth annual Women’s Resource Fair on Saturday, March 28, at the Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center, 1300 Lavaca St., from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The Resource Fair provides numerous free services to women in need, including battered and homeless women, in the Austin area. Some services offered include:
- Medical services, including mammograms, pap smears, well women exams and wellness visits
- Confidential legal assistance with family law, child custody, domestic violence and protective orders, criminal cases, immigration, estate planning and consumer issues
- Mental health services
- Social services and shelter referrals
- Job skills, education and employment counseling
- Debt and credit counseling
- Clothing closet and haircuts
- Child care
AYLA began the Resource Fair eight years ago when attorney Elizabeth Branch, then AYLA Director, shared her experience in working on a similar Women’s Resource Fair in San Diego, CA. She had seen first-hand the impact the project had on its participants, the legal community and the community as a whole. The program has proved to be equally successful in Austin. The Resource Fair is unique in its ability to help a greatly underserved population by bringing together legal, medical and social services all on the same day and at the same location.
Branch had this to say about the event: “The Women’s Resource Fair is such a collaborative effort. It’s the best of Austin’s legal and medical communities, social service agencies, businesses, restaurants, professionals and so many more – all coming together to make a difference. We have hundreds of volunteers and people that plan the event, many who come back year after year because they can really see the impact the Fair has on these women and children in need. They see how the women are able to get, in many cases, life-altering legal advice, medical care, and housing resources, as well as access to food banks, mental health care, credit counseling and other vital social services. Plus, they can obtain services that enhance their lives in other ways such as free haircuts and nice clothes – including suits and other professional attire donated by Austin attorneys. In addition, they are offered a good breakfast and lunch, and their children are given childcare while they access the many services available. It’s a fantastic event that I’m proud to be a part of.”
There are many success stories from past Women’s Resource Fairs. Perhaps one of the most dramatic happened during the first year the Fair was held. A woman approached the attorneys in the Legal Services area. She had just inherited her minor niece and nephew after her sister had unexpectedly passed away. The little boy had a heart defect and was on the organ donor waiting list. However, his medical care was being delayed because his mother had died without leaving a will, and therefore the State was still working out guardianship details. Unfortunately, the woman was not in a financial position to hire an attorney to speed the process along. However, the attorneys at the Fair were able to assist the woman in getting a medical power of attorney for her nephew, just in time to see him receive his heart transplant.
The event is free and open to all women in the Austin area. Volunteers from the medical and legal community are needed and always welcome. Contact Debbie Kelly, AYLA Director, at 512.472.0279 to volunteer or for more information.