Volunteer Spotlight: David Mason

Dave has worked as a commercial finance lawyer in Chicago for 37 years, almost entirely at the law firm Goldberg Kohn Ltd.  Pro bono work, focusing on immigration matters, was a part of Dave’s practice for the last 10 years (albeit a small part).  Most of Dave’s pro bono projects involved assisting “Dreamers” who came to this country as children.  “I got great pleasure helping these hard-working young adults achieve their dream of remaining and creating lives for themselves in the United States.”  Dave always regretted that he did not find more time for more pro bono matters.  Having recently retired from practicing finance law, Dave promised himself that he would find a way to  do more pro bono work.    Dave was introduced to NSLAC by board member Laura Ulrich, a friend and spouse of one of Dave’s law partners.    “While I have been involved with the Clinic for only a short time, I have been impressed by the professionalism, passion and efficiency with which the Clinic represents its clients.  Residents of Chicago’s Northern suburbs (of which I have been one for almost all of my life) should be very proud of the work done by NSLAC.”  In retirement, Dave plans on spending more time with family (all of whom live in the Chicago area), traveling,  a handful of hobbies and pro bono legal projects.

 

Immigrant Heritage Month 2022

June is dedicated to sharing the stories of the immigrants that make America what it is today and supporting diversity in our nation. Every family has an immigration story, or knows someone who is an immigrant. We sure do!

To celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month here are some immigration stories from our clients, staff, and volunteers.

Lia Kim-Yi

Director of Immigration Lia Hyunji Kim-Yi’s father was a college professor in South Korea. When her family arrived in the U.S. back in 1985, her father got a job as a deliveryman. When he realized his job couldn't support his wife and three children, he went back to South Korea to continue teaching. Her mom stayed behind to raise Lia and her siblings, while she worked 12-hour days at her own business. For almost 18 years Lia’s father sent back almost his entire salary to the family in the U.S. and only saw them during his vacations. When Lia passed the bar and called her father in South Korea, he cried and told her that she “made his American dream come true, and all those years apart were worth it.”

Esteban Carbajal

Esteban Carbajal is a Staff Attorney. This is his immigration story. “Both my parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico nearly forty years ago.  Each arrived with no more than a fourth-grade education because they came from very poor families that needed them to help contribute to the household income, even as children.  However, these unfortunate circumstances molded my parents into the hardest workers and most benevolent persons I have ever known.  Both have always been willing to sacrifice so much for the sake of others.  After immigrating to the U.S., my father worked twelve-hour shifts as a cook in numerous restaurants and my mom worked multiple jobs at the same time, ranging from housekeeper to seamstress, in order to provide for my sister and me.  Their demanding work schedules allowed for very little family time, but I always recognized it as a necessary sacrifice that my parents willingly bore without any complaints because of their dedication to us.  Their extraordinary work ethic and kindness were what motivated me the most in pursuing a law degree.  Today, I can proudly say that I have obtained my Juris Doctor degree and I will continue to follow my parents’ example by helping others.”

Daniel Schack

Daniel Schack is a member of the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic’s Advocacy Committee. His grandfather escaped Nazi Germany. He watched his hometown of Munich burn on Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, he knew needed to leave. After heading first to England and then Australia, he finally ended up in Chicago. Like so many other refugees, Erich Schack owed his and his family’s lives to the willingness of others to take a chance on him. They made a good bet. Daniel’s grandparents built a business in which he and his two brothers now represent the fourth generation.

Miguel & Rosaura

Miguel was a North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic Client. We were honored to help him on his journey to become a new American. His father first came to the U.S. in 1985 with the hope of earning a better living to support our family of eleven back in Mexico. He settled in Colorado with a group of friends from his hometown and worked in agriculture picking various fruits. Seven years later, he joined him at the age of seventeen to help lessen the burden of supporting his large family. Together, they picked peaches, apples, and cherries during the warm months. During the winter months they would make apple juice. About three years later, he made his way to Illinois to reunite with the love of his life and now wife, Rosaura. The Clinic helped her to obtain her LPR status after living in the U.S. undocumented for 25 years. Together, they worked multiple jobs, made many sacrifices, and persevered through countless hardships to establish roots here, but they say, “it was all worth it. We had two beautiful daughters here and I finally became a U.S. citizen this year—something I never imagined when I first came here many years ago as a humble seventeen-year-old from a rural Mexican town. I am so appreciative of the many opportunities this country has provided my family and me, and I am especially proud of being able to say that I am a U.S. citizen.”

Susan Shulman

Executive Director Susan Shulman’s grandmother, Ruth Shulman (nee Liederman), was born in Leeds, England as her mother made her way from the Ukraine to Chicago to meet her husband.  When they arrived, Ruth’s father had already taken another wife.  Things were not easy for Ruth – her mother ended up in an asylum, and she grew up in different foster homes.  After her father kicked her out of the house at the age of 12, she worked at a department store in downtown Chicago.  Eventually, she ended up at the Yellow Truck and Coach Company, where she worked for a dashing manager named Louis Shulman.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Ramon

Ramon was a North Suburban Legal Aid client and is a naturalized U.S. citizen. In March of 2018, he came to us for help to petition his wife and fourteen-year-old stepson—both of whom lived in Mexico—for permanent resident status in the U.S.  Ramon and wife had been married for a little over a year by then and finally saved up enough money to pay the processing fees for their case.  The following month we submitted both petitions and by December of 2019 the U.S. Department of State had finished processing the cases.  Both cases were then placed in a queue for an interview at the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez, which at the time was taking about one year to be scheduled.  Consequently, he was expecting that his wife and stepson would not be able to come into the U.S. until January of 2021. Around the same time the Department of State had notified us that processing of the cases had been completed, Ramon was visiting his wife and stepson in Mexico for the holidays.  While there he started to feel very sick and eventually had to be admitted into a hospital where it was discovered that he had cancer.  The doctors there advised him to return to the U.S. immediately for further evaluation and treatment.

Before returning to the U.S., Ramon contacted the Clinic to see if there was a way to get his wife and stepson into the U.S. sooner since he was worried that his condition could ultimately be fatal.  He wished to have them by his side for support and stated that he did not want to leave them without the opportunity to immigrate.  The Clinic prepared a letter to the Department of State explaining Ramon’s situation and sought to expedite the cases based on humanitarian reasons.  The Department of State granted our request and scheduled an interview for March 19, 2020.

However, two days before the interview the Department of State announced that all interviews would be canceled because of COVID-19.  Luckily, Ramon’s wife and stepson were granted an exception to still be seen because of the extenuating circumstances of their case.  They were interviewed on March 20th and approved for permanent residency the same day so they could be reunited with our client shortly afterward.

Ramon just completed his chemotherapy and says he is so grateful for the help we provided him so his family could be by his side during these difficult times.

Rob Muriel

Rob Muriel is a North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic board member. Rob’s parents were raised in large families in Bolivia, South America. His parents were married in late 1962, and one month after the birth of their first child, William, in August 1963, Rob’s dad Hugo came to Chicago. Hugo had just finished his medical degree in Bolivia, and upon the advice of a Catholic priest he met from Chicago, Hugo secured an internship for postgraduate training at Mother Cabrini Hospital in Lincoln Park. Hugo worked multiple jobs while studying for the foreign medical equivalency exam. About seven months after arriving in the U.S., in April 1964, Hugo’s wife Eleanor and son joined him in Chicago. Hugo completed his training and passed his equivalency exam; he began practicing medicine in 1970. Nine years (and two more boys) later, Hugo was appointed by Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne to the position of Commissioner of the Department of Health. In the 15 years following his arrival, over 25 medical graduates from Bolivia followed him to Chicago. These physicians formed the Bolivian Medical Society and regularly returned to Bolivia for medical missions and conferences to pass on their knowledge to medical students in their homeland. Rob did not follow in his father’s medical path, but instead chose the practice of law. Forty years after his father was chosen to be Chicago Health Commissioner, Governor JB Pritzker asked Rob to serve as Director of the Illinois Department of Insurance.

Khemarey “Khem” Khoeun

Khemarey “Khem” Khoeun is a Board Member. She came to the United States just over 6 months of age. Her parents survived the Cambodian genocide (1975-1979) and met in Khao-I-Dang refugee camp. From there they went to Sa Kaeo, another refugee camp along the Thai-Cambodian border, where Khem was born.

They arrived to the U.S. in 1981, and settled in Uptown Chicago, a port of entry for many immigrants and refugees at the time. Khmer was the primary language spoken at home. The family eventually moved to the southwest suburbs, in hopes of leaving the inner city and providing more opportunities for education.

As a young adult, Khem was interested in reconnecting with her heritage and history - something she struggled to understand as her parents and the community she identified with struggled with untreated mental health issues. She went on to become President of the National Cambodian Heritage Museum & Killing Fields Memorial and later became the first Cambodian American woman elected to any position in the country. She has been an advocate for immigrant and refugee voices and engages in breaking the cycle of trauma through personal and collective healing.

Belany Contreras

Belany is a Law Clerk in the Immigration Law Practice. Belany and her mother came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was a baby. Last year, her grandma finally joined them in the U.S. Her family started her grandmother's immigration process a few years ago. Her grandmother's attorney unfortunately passed away during the process and by this time, the pandemic had just begun. Her family was desperately looking for help. At the time, Belany was taking an immigration law course and reached out to her professor for help. Her professor reviewed her grandma’s case and walked Belany through what needed to be done. Belany did what she could to help her family. This experience reminded Belany of why she wants to become an immigration lawyer. She wants to continue helping families and individuals live their American Dream.

Nicole Minnis

“I don’t remember a time in my early life without my grandparents.” Nicole—first from the right--is our clinic Pro Bono Coordinator. Her mother Nenita immigrated in the 1980s during a nursing shortage here in the U.S. After Nicole was born, her grandpa Teofilo and grandma Veronica immigrated to the U.S. to help Nicole’s mom and dad care for their two kids so they could work to provide for the family. They became U.S. citizens in 1993 and continued to care for Nicole and her two siblings, and later newer members of the Paredes family through to the last Paredes cousin born in 2001. With the support of Teofilo and Veronica, Nicole’s parents, aunties and uncles were able to navigate life as new immigrants with more success and give their children opportunities they would have otherwise not have had in the Philippines. Nicole recalls spending most of her childhood with her grandparents, while her mom worked nights and her dad worked days. “Growing up, I didn’t appreciate the sacrifices my parents and grandparents made to ensure that we, the kids, would be well-educated, safe, and fed. I now better understand the challenges they all faced as immigrants in the U.S. and am in awe of how their hard work and dedication to us allowed us to explore our fullest potentials. Without my grandparents, my life would have been so different. Not just because it would have been more difficult for my parents to raise three children, but also because they taught me to be proud of my Philippine heritage, and to never forget where I came from."

Rachel Doherty

Rachel Doherty is an Immigration Law Practice Assistant. Her maternal grandfather (Albert Erlebacher) was born in Karlsruhe Germany. In 1940, Albert and his family members were deported to concentration camps in France. In 1941, he and his parents applied for visas to the United States to escape persecution and be reunified with his brother, who had come to the United States at age 13. Eventually, Albert was rescued by OSE after his parents made the difficult decision to sign over custody. He escaped with a group of other eight-year-olds across the train tracks from France to Switzerland. By the time their visas were ultimately granted, it was too late to save his parents. Albert was eventually able to come live with distant relatives on the south side of Chicago.

Rachel’s paternal grandfather’s dad (Patrick Doherty) immigrated from Carrick, Ireland to the western United States to work on the railroads. Her paternal great-grandmother (Hannah Byrne) had immigrated from Carrick, Ireland to Indianapolis. Patrick got in touch with the girl he’d grown up with, moved to Indianapolis, opened a grocery store, and started a family with her.

Rachel’s paternal grandmother’s family immigrated to the United States from Luxembourg in the 1880s and 1890s.

Rachel reflects on what her immigration story taught her. “It’s important to me, as the descendant of immigrants and refugees, that I remember that history. Over 80 million individuals around the world have been forced to flee from home. It is our job to welcome those who are lucky enough to make it here,”

Pictured: 2nd from the left is Rachel’s great-grandmother, Irma Erlebacher. She is shown here with other Le Comité volunteers who cooked meals for sick people in the concentration camp.

 

Marina Maric

Marina Maric is an Immigration Assistant at NSLAC. This is her immigration story. "My parents first immigrated to Canada in 1992 in search of better economic opportunity. My mother had just graduated medical school in Serbia and employment opportunities were scarce in the former Yugoslavia during times of war and hyperinflation. During my parents’ immigration interview in Canada, the officer very matter-of-factly let my mother know that she wouldn’t work a day in her life as a doctor in Canada. She accepted this at first, but after some years had passed, she knew she needed to find a way to exercise the profession she had worked so hard for. She took the leap to begin interviewing for residency positions in the United States, where she knew there were many more opportunities open to foreign medical graduates. She was already 5 months pregnant with me at the time of the interviews and worried that she might be rejected if the interviewers were to find out. After she was accepted to the residency program at John H. Stroger Hospital here in Chicago, my parents immigrated to the United States with an 8-month-old baby in their arms, ready to begin their next chapter. My mother spent the next three years juggling the rigorous demands of a medical residency alongside the emotional demands of being a new mom with an infant waiting at home, which she could not have done without the loving support of my dad. She graduated and became an attending physician in the year 2000 and has proudly served historically underserved communities on Chicago’s West Side with the Cook County Health and Hospitals System for 25 years. I am proud of her every day."

 

 

 

North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic Adds Legal Staff

The North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic (NSLAC) is pleased to announce the hiring of Housing Law Practice Attorney Kevin Sheehan and Immigration Law Practice Law Clerk Belany Contreras.

Kevin Sheehan is a staff attorney driven by community-based advocacy and seeking the best possible results for low-income clients with our housing law practice. He brings not-for-profit legal aid experience in community outreach and as a housing staff attorney. Kevin has also worked as legal counsel to the Illinois Senate President and has experience advising and crafting policies focusing on racial equity and justice. He is dedicated to helping others. He has provided pro bono services to Equip for Equality and has served on the American Cancer Society Associate Board of Ambassadors.

Kevin received his J.D. from the DePaul College of Law and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Dayton.

Belany Contreras was born in Mexico and was one of the first in her family to come to the U.S. She has always been passionate about helping the community and individuals in need. Her own immigrant experience inspired her to study law to become an immigration lawyer. She has worked as an intern and volunteer at multiple non-profit organizations including the Greater Chicago Legal Clinic and Instituto del Progreso Latino. During law school, Belany worked as a student attorney at the Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Clinic. While working there, she worked with immigrant entrepreneurs.

Belany received her J.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Law. She received her B.A. from Lake Forest College, where she majored in Latin American Studies and double-minored in Social Justice and Legal Studies.

“There continues to be an uptick in cases in our law practice areas. The addition of highly qualified attorneys and staff supports NSLAC’s mission of providing accessible, quality, free legal services in the areas of domestic violence, housing, and immigration to give those in need of access to justice the opportunity to live productive and secure lives,” said Executive Director Susan Shulman. “Access to justice is a human right and these talented individuals deeply understand the work that we do to provide it.”

Volunteer Spotlight: Heidi Sachs

Heidi Sachs is an attorney with Sullivan Wolf Kailus LLC where she focuses on commercial contracts. Heidi lives in Highland Park with her husband Rick Maletsky and their three children. Heidi is on the board of several local organizations including JUF Women’s Philanthropy and the PTO of her daughter’s school.

Heidi understands first-hand the importance of providing high quality legal services to those in need. When Heidi was a junior associate at a large law firm in New York City, she had the opportunity to spend 6 months working for the East Harlem Legal Aid Society. Thus, when board member and friend Leslie Katz asked her to get involved with the Clinic, Heidi was excited. Heidi has been extremely impressed with the professionalism and dedication of everyone at the Clinic and greatly enjoys serving on its Advocacy Committee.

 

North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic Participates in Highland Park’s 13th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service

North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic Participates in Highland Park’s 13th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service

 

The North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic is pleased to join together with the community virtually on Monday, January 17 beginning at 10 AM for the 13th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Service event hosted by the City of Highland Park’s Human Relations Advisory Group and the Park District of Highland Park.

Know Your Rights & How To Be An Ally

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a fierce advocate for justice that included everyone and addressed all forms of threats to human dignity. The North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic is a beacon of hope for those in need of access to justice. We urge individuals and families to be prepared and Know Your Rights and the public is encouraged to be an ally to those in need. Helpful information for all is available below.

All Are Welcome Here

Acts of racism and injustice are all too familiar and unacceptable. The safety and wellbeing of our clients and the communities that we serve remain our priority. We believe that our community is enriched by people of different backgrounds and cultures, and we are committed to building a culture of cooperation among diverse groups.

 

Show that you care by downloading and coloring this flyer. Place it in a prominent location (we suggest a front door or window) for all to see. Show us your art on social media by tagging the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #AccessToJustice

Example:

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

 The Clinic has partnered with Judy’s Pizza for the month of February. Special thanks to the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic Regional Student Leadership Board for leading these special events in partnership with Judy’s!   

  • Round Up in February! – Judy’s Pizza will be asking guests to “round up” on their purchases for the whole month of February for proceeds to benefit the Clinic. 
  • Dine and Donate on February 5th! – Judy’s Pizza will be donating 20% of sales made on Saturday, February 5th to the Clinic.  
  • Cooking Demo to Save Lives on February 10th! – Special cooking demonstration on February 10th at 11 am with guest chefs from Judy’s pizza. The Clinic hosts free virtual cooking demonstrations with professional chefs on the second Thursday of every month. The Clinic invites anyone with questions about domestic violence to ask those questions to Clinic attorneys anonymously in the chat. The cooking demonstrations include a live chat, via RingCentral. No domestic violence content will be shown on the video. Guests can log on anonymously using an alias throughout the hour. No registration is required. Join the event here: https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/1489481392.

We are so thankful for our friends over at Judy’s Pizza in Highland Park (https://www.judyspizza.com/). Please show your support to the Clinic by supporting Judy’s in February!  

Teen dating violence is domestic violence. Teen dating violence is a pattern of behavior that includes physical, emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse by one person in an intimate relationship to exert power and control over another. Relationship violence can occur at school — in the hall, in the classroom, in the parking lot, on the bus or in a car, at after-school activities, at a student’s workplace, at a school dance, or at a student’s home. In teenage dating relationships, the abuse is often public with peers witnessing the abuse; however, the abuse can also occur in private.

It is fitting to think of February as a month of love, but what most may not realize is that it is also February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is important to educate teens about what is and is not a healthy relationship.

Some signs to watch for include:

  • Intensity – a relationship that develops extremely fast
  • Control or jealousy
  • Changes in Dress
  • Drastic behavior changes
  • Isolation
  • Constant communication with significant other
  • Ramifications for not responding in a timely manner

Help to raise awareness about teen dating violence and stop the abuse before it begins. This month we come together to raise awareness through advocacy and education to stop abuse before it starts. Need to know how to talk to your teen? Got questions of your own? Be in touch with the Clinic at info@NSLegalAid.org or 847 737 4042. All inquiries are strictly confidential. Love shouldn’t hurt.

Closed for the Holidays

All of us at the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic send the warmest holiday wishes and an abundance of happiness, health, and peace to all.  We are fortunate to have dedicated staff who work hard throughout the year. They will be taking some downtime to rest, recharge, and refresh. The Clinic will be closed from December 24 – January 2. We will re-open on January 3, 2022.

 

In case of an emergency, please call 911. If you need confidential domestic violence-related assistance, please be in touch with our partner, A Safe Place at (847) 731-7165 or the 24-Hour Crisis Line: (847) 249-4450 or 1-800-600-SAFE.

 

We look forward to working together again in 2022 and beyond.

Volunteer Spotlight: Daniel Schack

Daniel Schack is the Vice President of Sales Operations for Rico Industries, a manufacturer of licensed wholesale gift and novelty promotional products, a Northfield Township Trustee, and he is Vice President of Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation. He lives in Northbrook with his wife Mara Silver-Schack, a District 28 school board member, and their three children.

 

In 2019 the Democrats of Northfield Township honored the Clinic at their fall fundraiser. Listening to the presentations, Daniel was inspired and wanted to learn more. As soon as the luncheon ended, he sought out Executive Director Susan Shulman and expressed his interest at furthering the Clinic’s mission through advocacy. The timing was perfect as the Clinic had just launched the Advocacy Committee with goals of monitoring and providing input into local and statewide legislation, policy and funding that enhance opportunities for those in need of access to justice in the areas of domestic violence, housing, and immigration in north suburban Cook County and throughout Lake County. Daniel took the lead from the moment he joined the committee. He says, “the Clinic’s mission really spoke to me, and I’ve been so impressed with the professionalism and dedication of everyone I’ve worked with at NSLAC and love to help any way I can.”

 

Daniel has furthered relationships and continues to develop new connections for the Clinic with policymakers and partners that work to improve the safety and livelihood of those we serve. The Clinic is so thankful for the commitment Daniel has made to all of us.

Free Legal Clinic for Older Adults on September 24, 2021 at the North Shore Senior Center

The Health Care Power of Attorney Document

Why Older Adults Need It

New Trier Township, the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic, and the North Shore Senior Center are offering a free legal clinic for older adults on September 24, 2021, at the North Shore Senior Center, 161 Northfield Road in Northfield from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM.

Volunteer attorneys will be on-site to assist participants with the preparation of a POA document and authenticate it with free notary public service.

Appointments are limited, please reserve your time via email info@NSLEGALAID.org or phone (847) 737-4042.