For over 50 years, Senior Legal Services (SLS) has provided free legal services to defend the rights of the elderly to quality housing, government benefits and protection from exploitation and discrimination. And after 30 years of battling with a very steep driveway, we are proud to boast new office space right in front of Hindquarter Bar & Grille at 317 Soquel Ave.
SLS also recently moved our Hollister satellite office into the new Epicenter at 440 San Benito St. With the help of staff members Robert Hernandez and Buffy Almendares, they upgraded their small office inside the Watsonville Senior Center.
SLS was founded in 1972 by a senior activist group, believing the elderly deserved accessible legal aid services and programs designed to meet their particular needs. Our new Supervising Attorneys, Emily Trexel and Rosalina Nunez, now lead a team of staff attorneys, paralegals and intern advocates to provide Santa Cruz and San Benito County seniors with legal assistance and representation at no cost to our clients.
We are a safety-net organization that frequently works closely with the courthouse, adult protective services and community partners to offer critical services to one of the most vulnerable groups. In partnership with the Superior Court and Conflict Resolution Center, SLS staffs a housing advocate daily at the law library to provide self-help services to landlords and tenants and funds free housing mediation services through Conflict Resolution Center.
The demand for legal services has skyrocketed. We experienced a significant increase in the number of seniors requesting services during Covid’s onset, resulting in a 47% increase in services in 2021 and 22% in 2022.
Senior Legal Services is 100% funded through community donations and institutional funders. SLS’s charity gala, 50 Years of Justice, on May 5, at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk’s Cocoanut Grove, will help fund recently hired and invest in more human and technological resources as demand grows.
Santa Cruz County Supervisor and former California Secretary of State Bruce A. McPherson will receive a special award. Ellen Pirie and Terry Hancock will be honored for their longtime support. Capitola Mayor Sam Storey and Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County’s Susan True will be honored for their work and ongoing generosity.
We are thrilled to welcome California State Assemblyperson, 28th District, Gail Pellerin, as our keynote speaker. Visit seniorlegal.org for more info or tinyurl.com/slsgala for the 50 Years of Justice charity gala.
Tanya Harmony Ridino, Esq. | Executive Director, Senior Legal Services of Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties
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