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From the Desk of Barbara Finkelstein, CEO  

August
31

What a year!  It’s been several months now that the world has been turned upside down due to COVID-19.  I hope that you are making it through safely and that you and your families are all healthy and well.

As Labor Day quickly approaches and the summer months come to an end, I wanted to check in and let you know that my priorities remain the same, safety and well-being for all involved with Legal Services of the Hudson Valley.

As we continue to adjust to what has become our new normal, it is important to recognize how much has been done to adapt, to pivot and to overcome.  Every day, I am inspired by the dedication of our staff in continuing to meet the needs of our clients and in their willingness to put other’s needs before their own.

From the day we moved to a remote work environment, we didn’t miss a beat.  And with each new directive, we adapted to seamlessly provide legal assistance and advice to those who needed it.

Most of our work during the past few months has been on an emergency basis, illegal lockouts, emergency orders of protection, assistance with applying for emergency benefits and so much more.  At the same time, our staff continuously worked to provide information and plan for what the future may hold.  In order to make information available we created Know Your Rights Videos so that information on important and relevant topics was available through a quick Google search or YouTube Video.  Our legal staff spoke with clients whose cases were put on hold due to COVID-19 to make sure they were ready for when the courts reopened and we took the opportunity to make sure all legal staff were cross-trained on all areas of practice for everyone’s benefit.

During this time, we also kept the pulse on the government sector and fought to keep our funding in place.  There will be cuts and we are planning for them.  And because we were strategic, we are on pretty solid ground going into the second half of the year and have a sense of how we need to plan for 2021.

  • We applied for, and received, Payroll Protection Program money that has helped sustain us through the uncertainty.
  • We initially decided to freeze new hires or not fill vacant positions unless the contract or need could not be met with remaining staff.
  • We pivoted our Annual Gala to a digital event immediately, losing very little momentum.
  • We increased our foundation outreach and applied for as much COVID-19 funding as we were eligible for which helped greatly in our move to remote work and continues to help us to purchase the needed PPE’s and office cleaning as we return to the offices.
  • We updated our social media and website continuously to keep clients, community and government partners, and you apprised of new rules and information.
  • Wherever we could, to decrease our costs and streamline our messaging, we communicated digitally instead of through hard copy.
  • And we worked side-by-side with our community partners and the courts to make sure we could serve our clients in the best possible way.

As we return to in-person court dates and client interaction we continue to take every precaution, and in fact, our staff has worked with the courts to identify unsafe conditions, and suggest safer methods and practices resulting in remedies.

We couldn’t do any of this without your ongoing support.  We are grateful to those of you who continue to send donations, follow us on social media and share our content with your network.  We are appreciative for those of you who lend your expertise and talents through our pro-bono activities and volunteer hours.

As we move through the latter half of the year, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know how you are doing.  It is more important now than ever before that we stay connected.

If you want to help deal with the crisis by making a donation, click here!

 

 

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