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Law students, alumni volunteer to help Detroiters

July 24, 2012

             Wayne Law alumni, students, faculty and other volunteers with the 313 Project have been busy this summer giving energy, time and expertise to help Detroiters.

The 313 Project is a nonprofit founded by three Wayne Law students — Erika Riggs, Julianna Rivera and Aisa Villarosa Berg — in 2009. The women and their cohorts pledged to focus the Detroit area legal community on community service, mentorship and education and empowerment in Detroit.
                Today, the founders are practicing attorneys, and they’re still making good on their pledge. They’ve held fundraisers, pro bono legal clinics, “adopted” needy families for the holidays and established a scholarship fund, among other efforts.
                This summer has been particularly busy for the 313 Project group. On July 12, more than 300 volunteers, including law students and attorneys, turned out to clean up and renovate Romanowski Park in Detroit. The park is named after Sgt. Stanley Romanowski, a southwest Detroit man killed in action during World War II.
The volunteers’ tasks included “painting a play structure and climbing rock; boarding up several blighted houses encircling the park; and installing benches, bleachers, picnic tables and garbage cans,” said Berg. “We were blown away by our volunteers.”
They had a few days to recover from that effort before they hosted a legal aid clinic and barbecue at Piquette Square for more than 100 homeless veterans.  Piquette Square is a new, four-story apartment project in Detroit near the New Center.  It was funded by grants, tax credits and bond sales to provide homeless veterans with transitional housing and services such as job training and counseling to help them develop healthy living skills.
“However, the vets face many legal challenges that largely go unaddressed,” Berg said. “Legal aid is available to them, but only in the areas of VA benefits law and only after they are denied. So, for the second time this year, we offered counseling sessions with attorneys, as well as complimentary health screenings, a kind donation from Oakwood Healthcare.”
More than 30 volunteers showed up to help, including Wayne Law alumni and other attorneys with particularly needed areas of practice. They included Kimberly Grover (Stroia & Associates PC), family law and VA benefits law; Thomas Hetchler (Law Offices of Thomas Hetchler), VA benefits law; Mindy Hitchcock (Lady4Justice PLLC), family law; Erika Riggs, Stu Johnson and Randall Mansour (Disability Attorneys of Michigan), disability law; Adam Wenner (Dickenson Wright PLLC), housing law; and Janet Ziulkowski (Ziulkowski & Associates PLC), bankruptcy law.
“The veterans were incredibly grateful and fully utilized all services offered,” Berg said.
                A barbecue lunch of burgers, hot dogs, salad, macaroni and cheese, fruit punch and ice cream was served, as well.
                For some photos of July’s 313 Project activities, visit the Gallery portion of the Wayne Law website.

Advocating for justice, serving the community, revitalizing Detroit and Michigan