By Mike Mazzella
Instant gratification. That is exactly what Ebonee Avery-Washington gets from her job at Legal Counsel for the Elderly. “I’m arming them with knowledge,” Ebonee told me when I met with her to discuss her work East of the River.
Ebonee’s mission as a legal associate for Legal Counsel for the Elderly is a simple one: to assist low-income, elderly residents of the District of Colombia with their everyday legal issues. The problems she helps resolve range from consumer issues to accessing public benefits. She travels all over the Northeast and Southeast quadrants, including spending time at Capital View Baptist Church and Bread for the City’s Southeast office. Each client is unique, and each problem she handles requires an individualized approach.
Recently, Ebonee assisted an elderly client who had problems with a home repair project. Her client was an 89-year-old woman looking to have the air ducts in her home cleaned. The client contracted with a company to clean the ducts, agreeing to pay more than a thousand dollars for the repairs.
The company came to the client’s home, but the services provided were substandard and not performed as contracted. The company refused to come back to repair the work, and sent the client a bill. The client, shocked by the unwarranted charges, turned to Ebonee for help. Together the two contacted the company to challenge the unjust bills. “She was able to handle it, she’s a smart woman, but it was nice to lend her a helping hand,” explained Ebonee.
Ebonee’s advice to lawyers and law students thinking of contributing their time and skills East of the River is to go for it! “Just do it! There are so many opportunities to learn and grow. The work is worthwhile, challenging, and gratifying. I have encountered a great deal of professionalism and high standards in my work with East of the River communities.”