One Phoenix-based nonprofit organization is using its recent financial success to increase their client intake and provide more abuse survivors with no-cost legal services.
Arizona Legal Women and Youth Services provides no-cost legal services to young men and women living in the valley who are survivors of human trafficking, or who have fallen victim to homelessness, foster care, and abuse.
When January Contreras and Dennis Burke founded ALWAYS in 2013, there were three paid employees and 20 volunteers.
Four years later they have gradually grown their staff to five paid employees and 25 volunteers.
Lauren Kinzle, a pre-law student at Arizona State University, started volunteering for ALWAYS in the beginning of this year.
“It started out as just a couple lawyers who were trying to help people,” Kinzle said. “It has definitely grown since then.”
ALWAYS hasn’t seen substantial growth in their staff or volunteers, but they’ve grown in other ways.
“People are more aware of who we are now and we all work more efficiently so we can take on more cases,” Kinzle said.
Kinzle said that even though she hasn’t been with ALWAYS for very long, she has seen the organization grow and improve during her time.
A majority of the growth ALWAYS has seen has been in their yearly revenue.
According to their most recent tax records, ALWAYS had an increase in yearly revenue of 22% from 2013 to 2014, and a 44% from 2014 to 2015.
That’s a 77% increase in revenue over a span of two years.
ALWAYS uses all of the profits they receive from donors to pay for their space, their supplies, and most importantly the legal services for their clients said Adriana Garcia, legal and volunteer director for ALWAYS.
These legal services include fingerprint clearance cards, criminal history set aside requests and government issued identification for Arizona.
The work the ALWAYS staff does is pro-bono, so the legal services they pay for are specific documents and fees for the court, not for the lawyers and volunteers that work on the cases.
“We take volunteers if they’re undergrad or in law school,” said Garcia
These volunteers work with attorneys and help with case research.
This double in profits is why ALWAYS has been able to increase their yearly number of clients said Garcia.
According to the organization’s documents, ALWAYS was able to provide legal services to 59 young women and men in 2014. This number jumped to 148 young women and men helped in 2016.
Garcia said by increasing their yearly number of clients ALWAYS is doing its part to help improve violence in the state of Arizona.
ALWAYS is the only organization in Arizona that is dedicated to providing no cost legal services to victims of abuse from the judicial system.