Lives of Legal Aid

BHP Community Legal logoA pro-bono project, Lives of Legal Aid was the brainstorm of Roselyn Roark at Bayview/Hunter’s Point Community Legal, a nonprofit providing free legal services to a low-income neighborhood in San Francisco. Inspired by the “Humans of New York” blog, the goal was to make the work of the nonprofit come to life by showing, through words and photos, the stories of real people who the organization has helped.

There was an extra imperative for making this work meaningful to people: BHP Community Legal was one of the finalists for a Google Impact Challenge grant, and it was up against some big national organizations with major marketing budgets. If BHP Community Legal was able to collect enough votes, it stood to get a $500,000 grant from Google–equivalent to a whole year’s operating budget for the nonprofit. So attracting attention and motivating people to vote was critical.

Roselyn brought in Tweney Media to interview clients, staffers, and the founders of BHP Community Legal. We recorded each interview in a private room in the organization’s headquarters. Then the people went into the back courtyard for a photo session with RC Rivera Photography.

Tweney Media transcribed each interview and then edited it down to a concise, first-person vignette that was published on the Lives of Legal Aid website along with RC’s photography.

The project took a little more than a week altogether, and the results are beautiful. Photographs and the subjects’ own words make the impact of BHP Community Legal especially vivid: It helps people find homes, stay in apartments, resolve disputes, and locate resources.

And the impact? BHP Community Legal won the $500K grant from Google, collecting tens of thousands of votes and placing second overall.

The grant has enabled BHP Community Legal to hire five new staff members and expand its coverage from one to three ZIP codes.

BHP Community Legal is always in need of volunteer help for a variety of jobs. It’s a cool place making a big impact in a segment of SF that is way too often overlooked. Click here to learn more about volunteer opportunities at BHPCL.

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