Pictured (left to right) are Family & Children’s Law Center’s Angela Domenico, bilingual attorney, Abby Lucha, executive director, Elizabeth Segura, bilingual legal assistant, and Virginia Millacci, Bridgeport attorney fellow. -Photo by Frankie Frost
Founded in 1985, Family & Children’s Law Center enables children and families to enjoy a more successful future by helping them navigate the Marin County family court. The law center provides high-quality, low-cost legal services to children and families on matters ranging from domestic violence to child custody and support. The organization serves low to moderate income clients in Marin County Superior Court on a sliding scale. Almost half of its clients speak primarily Spanish and are assisted by the law center’s bilingual staff. Each year, the nonprofit aids between 700 and 1,000 clients.
With the increase of domestic violence due to the shelter in place in spring 2020, the law center experienced a 50% increase in the need for domestic violence services. This was an incredibly dangerous time for victims of domestic violence due to increased isolation and services not being offered in person, according to law center leaders. The attorneys immediately began providing services over the phone, submitting domestic violence restraining orders to court, and representing clients by Zoom.
Family & Children’s Law Center is the only low-cost option for family law and domestic violence representation in Marin, and never requires a retainer for service. Without these services, many low to moderate income clients in Marin would be without legal representation.
A $10,000 grant to the law center from the Giving Marin Community Partnership is directly used to subsidize client fees for intake appointments so they can receive immediate legal advice. As the law center receives more than 550 intakes each year, these services are in high demand. Providing a free or very low-cost intake appointment to low-income clients allows clients to receive access to basic legal information that will allow them to make educated decisions and start their cases.
Oftentimes the opposing party has already retained an attorney and the organization’s clients have no other options. Clients are fearful their children will be taken away, their financial means will be cut off or they will be kicked out of their house. As approximately 33% of law center intakes are victims of domestic violence, it is critical to meet with these survivors early on to get them the necessary services to protect them and their children.
The grant funds have greatly relieved the financial pressure of domestic violence survivors who are often fearful their abusers will learn they have sought legal services. Family & Children’s Law Center services, in partnership with the generosity of Giving Marin, have the potential to save lives in Marin County.
Giving Marin Community Partnership 2020 grants of $5,000 and $10,000 each, were awarded to 12 Marin nonprofits for a total of $75,000.
Grants for breast cancer support networks
To Celebrate Life Breast Cancer Foundation, a volunteer-based organization, is regarded as a prime funder in the breast cancer space in the Bay Area. It has been awarding grant funds to local organizations that support breast cancer patients for the past 26 years. These organizations provide over 10,000 emergency and direct services each year for underserved patients struggling with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Despite fundraising challenges and restrictions due to COVID-19 in 2020, the foundation was proud to award $250,000 in grants to 17 Bay Area nonprofit organizations which support women and men with breast health issues. These organizations provide emergency, direct and diagnostic services, patient navigation, financial assistance, holistic complimentary therapies and emotional support programs to underserved breast cancer patients.
Marin organizations that received a grant are Ceres Community Project, Marin Center for Independent Living and MarinHealth Foundation. For a complete list of the 2021 grantees and programs funded, visit tocelebratelife.org/grantees.