Pisgah Legals Services to celebrate 40th anniversary

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Pisgah Legals Services to celebrate 40th anniversary

Congratulions to Pisgah Legal Services. Here's all the info:

Forty years ago, if a person was struggling and in need of civil legal help, there were very few options available in Western North Carolina. Whether suffering from abuse, living at the mercy of a negligent landlord, trapped in a scam or in desperate need of health care, low-income people with serious legal issues likely had no one in their corner.

But in 1978, a small group of attorneys recognized the need and began a nonprofit now known as Pisgah Legal Services (PLS). This nonprofit law firm, that provides free legal aid to those living in poverty, began as a handful of volunteers serving dozens of people out of a small room in the Buncombe County Courthouse. PLS is now an essential safety net organization that serves more than 15,000 people each year through 11 locations around the WNC region.

On April 11, hundreds of PLS supporters will gather at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel at 5:30 pm to celebrate at the 40th Anniversary Jazz for Justice event and honor these extraordinary supporters: Pat Smith, James Ellis, and Sarah Corley. Special remarks will be made by Gene R. Nichol, UNC School of Law Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor and poverty law expert.

Jazz for Justice is open to the public and tickets are $50/person. The event will feature food and drink with live jazz entertainment by The Rich Willey Jazz Band. Proceeds will support PLS’ work to help thousands of low-income people meet their most basic needs. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available online at www.pisgahlegal.org or by calling (828) 210-3444.

About the Honorees:

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Pat Smith is the recipient of the PLS Terry Van Duyn Community Volunteer Award. Smith is the retired Executive Director of The Community Foundation of WNC and an active community leader and volunteer who recently served as Chair of the Board of Trustees at UNC Asheville and Chair of the Asheville Savings Bank Board. She is a long-time PLS supporter and advisor and co-chair the PLS Endowment Committee with her husband, Phil. Smith also volunteers at PLS’ Earned Income Tax Credit clinics, helping local people keep more of their tax refunds without having to pay for filing services.

The PLS Karl H. Straus Board Member Emeritus Award is bring presented to Sarah Corley. Corley was active on the PLS Board for seven years, including serving as Vice President and President. She led PLS as programs were expanded to stop domestic abuse and increase access to affordable health insurance. Corley continues to support PLS as a donor, volunteer attorney, fundraiser and member of the Endowment Committee. She is a private mediator with her own firm, MediationWorks.

James Ellis is receiving The Roy W. Davis, Jr. Award. Ellis is an attorney at Stone & Christy, P.A. and a leader in providing pro bono service in WNC. He volunteers with PLS’ Mountain Area Volunteer Lawyer (MAVL) Program, having taken 711 pro bono cases since 1996. Ellis served on the PLS Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016, including on the Executive Committee and Finance Committee. He has also been President of the 28th Judicial District Bar, served on its Executive Committee and led its Pro Bono Committee.

Pisgah Legal wishes to thank the local businesses and individuals that are generously sponsoring the 40th Anniversary Jazz for Justice. Lead sponsors include: Asheville Radio Group; Biltmore; Blossoms at Biltmore Park / Baggie Goose; Blue Ridge Public Radio; Brain Hooks; The Daniels Group; ERC Broadband; Eurosport Asheville; Hi-Wire Brewing; HomeTrust Bank; Jay Kerr Law; Kilwins Chocolates, Fudge, and Ice Cream; Leslie and Associates; McGuire, Wood & Bissette, P.A.; MAHEC; Mission Health; Paramount Kia; Pisgah Plants; PSAV; Pulliam Properties; Renaissance Asheville Hotel; Roberts & Stevens; Pam and Tom Siekman; Stone & Christy, P.A.; The Van Winkle Law Firm; Walnut Cove Members Association; Wicked Weed Brewing.

Since 1978, PLS has helped low-income people meet their basic needs, such as protection from domestic violence, avoiding homelessness, finding safe housing, accessing health care and increasing income. Pisgah Legal Services has 22 attorneys on staff, and relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of approximately 300 volunteer attorneys and the help of more than 100 office and navigator volunteers. Last year local people donated more than 13,000 in volunteer hours to Pisgah Legal Services. The nonprofit’s main service area includes six counties in WNC, with offices in Asheville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Marshall and Rutherfordton. For more information, call Pisgah Legal Services at 828-253-0406 or toll free at 800-489-6144 or go to www.pisgahlegal.org.