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Legal Aid Justice Center Gets $10 Million Donation

Angela Ciolfi is Executive Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center

A group that provides free legal assistance to low-income Virginians is planning to expand thanks to a ten million dollar donation from Charlottesville philanthropist Sonjia Smith. Director Angela Ciolfi says the money will do more than pay lawyers.

“The Legal Aid Justice Center provides free legal services to individuals and families who are struggling with certain legal matters, but we also aim to dismantle the systems that create and perpetuate poverty.”

She notes, for example, that during the pandemic the center joined in a lawsuit that won support for thousands of people who had lost their jobs.

“Legal Aid Justice Center not only fielded hundreds and hundreds of calls from individuals who weren’t receiving their unemployment benefits on time, but we also joined with other legal partners to sue the Virginia Employment Commission.”

The group already serves central and northern Virginia, Galax and the Eastern Shore. Now, Ciolfi says, it may also be possible to set-up an office in Hampton Roads.

Sandy Hausman joined our news team in 2008 after honing her radio skills in Chicago. Since then, she's won several national awards for her reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Radio, Television and Digital News Association and the Public Radio News Directors' Association.