Legal aid to host community forum

Published 9:22 am Thursday, March 15, 2012


SUFFOLK—The Virginia Legal Aid Society wants to know what people think about issues facing low-income residents in Franklin and Isle of Wight County.

The society, which helps low-income people with civil legal problems, is facing revenue cuts and seeking the public’s help in determining which areas to focus its resources. It also is in the midst of revising its strategic plan, which it does every five years.

Two community forums will be held in coming weeks for the public to give its input.

“We have significantly declining funding over the last two years,” said David Neumeyer, executive director of the legal aid society. “We’ve lost about 17 percent of our total funding, and we know we’re going to get another cut by Congress next January.”

The cuts have left the society with a deficit of about $400,000. Neumeyer said if the organization does not find a new source of significant funding, it will have to do layoffs and cut back on client services.

“A needs assessment process is doubly important to us this year,” Neumeyer said. “We need to find out what are the most important problems, and if we have fewer people to work on them, choose the best way to make use of those limited people.”

The society serves 20 counties and six cities across southern Virginia with a total of 130,000 people who are eligible for its services.

For people who need the help of a lawyer, the society now is able to take less than half the cases it receives.

“It could be next year, we’re taking well less than half of those cases,” Neumeyer said. “The purpose of the community forum is to hear from everyone interested about what the most important problems affecting people right now are.”

The first community forum will be held March 22 from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Ruth Camp Campbell Memorial Branch Library, 280 N. College Drive, Franklin.

The second forum will be held March 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Isle of Wight Department of Social Services,17100 Monument Circle, Isle of Wight County.

For people who are unable to make it to either forum, a survey is available on the society’s website at