In rural eastern Oklahoma, Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center has brought in lawyers to help patients access benefits and safe housing.
By Laura Eastes
“On the morning of Sept. 10, Kendra Coleman walked into Spencer’s Mary Mahoney Memorial Health Center, unpacked her laptop and took a seat at a conference table.
Then she waited.
Nervous and excited about her role as the pro-bono attorney for a new, once-a-month civil legal clinic, she remembers telling herself, ‘If I can help just one person, then it’s enough. It’s a success.’
By noon, Coleman and a Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Inc. attorney had helped a handful of people.
By the end of December, over the course of four monthly Saturday clinics, the two lawyers helped more than 100 rural eastern Oklahoma County residents, advising them on everything from veterans’ benefits to fighting foreclosures and rental evictions.
‘For a lot of people, this is their first opportunity to talk to a legal professional because they simply can’t afford it,’ said Coleman, an Oklahoma City private practice attorney who lives in the Spencer community. ‘Sometimes its not a legal issue — they just need legal guidance. Those are the people who love it the most; you shouldn’t have to pay for the small information that you need, but in general, you can’t call a lawyer.'”