Antioch Education Center (AEC) operates a much-needed Legal Assistance Program that began nearly four years ago when the SC Bar Foundation started funding a program that provides much-needed legal services for the low-income residents of Jasper County. It has been a huge gift to see over 100 families and individuals get the assistance they need. With help from the South Carolina Legal Services (SCLS), AEC has been able to assist families and individuals with issues such as expungements, landlord-tenant issues, wills, child support, and other non-felony matters.
Due to the assistance and generosity from the SC Bar Foundation, AEC received funding to hire a legal assistant. Initially, AEC requested and received funding for a part-time staff person to assist with the advertising and marketing of this much-needed service. AEC also asked the SCBF to assist with funds that would also allow this part-time staff person to receive the anticipated numerous requests, process, and then book appointments with SCLS’s staff attorneys.
In return, AEC provided free office space, equipment, utilities including telephone and internet services, copying, etc to see attorneys. AEC also provided follow-up and evaluations for all of the clients who booked services through this program. The results were astonishing, fueling the request for three years for additional support. This time, funding was requested to increase the part-time worker to full time. Amazingly, AEC continued to grow the program when they hired a full-time legal assistant.
Now, as the program is in its third year, the full-time assistant is traveling to reopened faith-based institutions, utilizing social media, reaching out to all of AEC’s partners, using its website and many other means to identify those Jasper County low-income residents who are in need of affordable legal services. This program has been extremely successful and widely used. Currently, AEC’s legal assistant is in the process of visiting Jasper’s County’s largest low-income housing unit with 175 households, each Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. for the purpose of signing up low-income residents in need of legal services. She will continue going there twice a week for the next six weeks until the end of July.
These are just some of the wonderful opportunities that have been afforded to AEC so that it can reach deep into the hearts of Jasper’s low-income communities and make contact with those who are most in need yet cannot afford to hire an attorney.
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