Half-Million Dollar Grant Helps Pace Women’s Justice Center Help Abused Women

Pace Women’s Justice Center to receive nearly $500,000 Federal Funds to provide legal services for victims of violence, sexual assault and stalking in Westchester and Putnam Counties.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contacts: Cara Cea, Pace University (914) 906-9680, ccea@pace.edu


Center will partner on comprehensive services with El Centro Hispano, Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, Victim Assistance Services and Hope’s Door

WHITE PLAINS, NY, September 10, 2009 –Sonia S (not her real name) was broken, physically and emotionally, as she struggled up the steps of an office in White Plains one winter morning last year. Her boyfriend had beaten her and chased their two children into a freezing back yard.

Yet with the help of the organization in that office, the Pace Women’s Justice Center, and its attorneys, law students, and community-based partnering agencies, she received custody of her children and she and they received shelter, an emergency protective order from Family Court, child support, safety planning, counseling and other essential support services so that she could move forward with her life free from violence.

As the economy adds stresses to households, women and families in Westchester and Putnam counties affected by domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking will continue to get such services, thanks to a federal grant of nearly a half million dollars to the Pace Women’s Justice Center, a pioneering legal services program at Pace Law School (www.law.pace.edu/wjc).

The grant of $495,933 was obtained with the support of Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Congressman John Hall and US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

It goes to a center which over nearly 20 years has served almost 20,000 domestic violence victims and survivors and their children, and has trained hundreds of lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and police officers.

Pioneering The Center will use the funds to continue its partnership with four local shelters and community-based agencies — El Centro Hispano, the Putnam/Northern Westchester Women’s Resource Center, Victim Assistance Services, and Hope’s Door, formerly the Northern Westchester Shelter.

It will continue funding the work of attorneys, conducting legal clinics at partnering agencies, providing outreach particularly in underserved areas, such as Latino communities, and working with its partners to provide essential social services.

“The Pace Women’s Justice Center is a critical resource for women in our community suffering abuse or harassment,” said Lowey. “I am thrilled to have helped ensure their vital work enabling women and children to live free of violence will continue.”

“The Center has broken fresh ground in legal services by providing a critical safety net for hundreds of families every year, strengthening our state’s ability to reduce domestic abuse,” said Hall. “Especially in tough economic times, these services are so important to Hudson Valley residents.”

“The Pace Women’s Justice Center was the first law school legal center in the United States devoted to training attorneys on domestic violence issues,” said Gillibrand, a lawyer herself who is helping lead efforts to eliminate violence in New York. “This grant provides more than legal representation. It provides holistic, comprehensive services to forestall problems. And it will keep the Pace Women’s Justice Center working with a mix of agencies, shelters and centers around Westchester and Putnam.”

Said Jane Aoyama-Martin, Executive Director of PWJC, a lawyer who has fought domestic violence for over 20 years: “Each year, the Center provides legal services to battered women and their children in their struggle to free themselves from violence and abuse. Thanks to Congresswoman Lowey, Congressman Hall and Senator Gillibrand, this grant will allow the Center to continue its partnerships and collaborations to provide comprehensive legal and social services to Latina victims and survivors.”

About PWJC: Founded in 1991, over nearly 20 years the Center has grown from a legal resource and training center into a highly respected, multi-faceted institution serving over 2,500 victims and survivors of domestic violence each year. Because of its affiliation with Pace Law School, the Center has been able to make law students an integral component of its innovative programs, providing the students with practical experience and skills. In addition, the use of law students has improved the delivery of quality legal services to the surrounding community in a very cost-effective manner.

In addition to providing direct legal services, the Center sponsors a Family Law Lecture Series, a Moderate Means Divorce Panel, Elder Law Clinics, Elder Abuse Civil Legal Services, Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Trainings, and a Legal Helpline that receives over 3000 calls/year. The Center is located in Gail’s House at Pace Law School, 78 North Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603, and its helpline is at (914) 287-0739.

About Pace Law School: Founded in 1976, Pace Law School has nearly 6,700 alumni throughout the country and the world. It offers full- and part-time day and evening JD programs on its White Plains, NY, campus. With an Environmental Law program consistently ranked among the top three in the nation (US News & World Report), the school also offers the Master of Laws in Environmental Law, Real Estate Law and Comparative Legal Studies, and an SJD in Environmental Law. Pace is also the first law school in the nation to offer a course of study focused on climate change law, which is included as a specialty track in its Master of Laws in Environmental Law. The School of Law is part of a comprehensive, independent and diversified University with campuses in New York City and Westchester County. www.law.pace.edu

Professional education at Pace University: For 103 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality professional education resting on a firm base of liberal learning, amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

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