There are times when we are approached with a situation that almost defies belief. Such was the case when we recently spoke with Liz Gitlin, co-founder with her husband Bruce, of the New York Center for Law and Justice. The Center’s focus is on helping the city’s indigent deaf and hard of hearing population with legal matters.
Liz shared the story of William*, now 52 years old. At the age of three, William was a normal toddler enjoying a day at the park. An accident with a swing resulted in severe head trauma and loss of hearing. Incredibly,William was placed in Willowbrook, then a residential treatment center for children with mental deficiencies. Willowbrook later became infamous for its inhumane treatment of residents and after much public scandal the center closed in 1987. William spent eleven years in Willowbrook.
When Liz met William he had several legal issues that needed resolution, but most pressing was his back rent. William has been a faithful employee of a fast food restaurant for many years and earns $7.65 hourly. And yet, with that and his SSDI he is able to survive, though barely. When he got behind in his rent, eviction became a real possibility.
Now that the Good People Fund has taken care of that crisis, William and Liz are working together on budgeting issues as well as the Social Security case. We have also agreed to cover the cost of equipment he needs in order to be able to communicate with people via telephone.
Our tzedakah investment in William will make a profound difference in what is surely a difficult life.
* a pseudonym