Valley Advocates to Be Honored by the White House for Efforts to Close the Justice Gap

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – October 11, 2011 – This Thursday the White House will honor Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) Executive Director David Hall and Brownsville Community Health Center Executive Director Paula Sela Gomez as Champions of Change for their dedication to closing the justice gap and helping low-income Texans gain access to the legal system.

Hall and Gomez are being recognized for the Medical-Legal Partnership their organizations have developed that makes attorneys vital components of the healthcare system. Through the Partnership, TRLA and the Brownsville Community Health Center address both health issues and their non-medical causes such as food insecurity, housing conditions, education, and elder care.

According to Priscilla Noriega, a TRLA attorney who works with the Partnership, “It is because of the vision and leadership of David and Paula that we have a system that provides medical and legal assistance to people who urgently need both, but can’t afford either.”

The Medical-Legal Partnership was established in October 2008 and has helped more than 500 families with their medical and legal needs. The Brownsville project is one of three Partnerships TRLA has established with medical care facilities throughout Texas.

At the Champions of Change celebration, Hall and Gomez will be among sixteen individuals honored for their efforts to provide free legal services to people who cannot afford them.  Also at the event, Attorney General Eric Holder will participate in an on-line conversation with current law students and faculty to encourage a new generation of lawyers to become involved in pro bono efforts.

Champions of Change will take place on Thursday, October 13th at 1:00pm and is hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Department of Justice’s Access to Justice Initiative.  A live stream will be available at www.whitehouse.gov/live.

Established in 1970, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc. (TRLA) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged clients in a 68-county service area. TRLA’s mission is to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency, safety and stability of low-income Texas residents by providing high-quality civil legal assistance and related educational services.

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