We would like to introduce you to our dear friend, Donna Bond. Donna is part of our community, and has been a longtime donor, volunteer, and supporter of the Benefits Law Center (BLC).
After years of attending BLC events, Donna became a fundraising committee member because she knew that by getting involved, she could make a difference in the lives of community members who need it most. The difficulties that BLC clients face while trying to navigate the Social Security system is one that Donna fully understands. “As a child, my family relied on the Social Security System – a Byzantine, confusing labyrinth of laws, rules, forms, courts, appeals, and denial after denial after denial.”
Research has shown that individuals are 3x as likely to be approved for Social Security benefits if they are represented by an attorney, a key reason why Donna decided to donate her time and talents to supporting Benefits Law Center. Donna, an attorney herself, understood how important it was for BLC clients to have attorney representation. “I was lucky because my mom was able to fight through the complexities of the system. But not everyone is able to do that. Roughly 65% of people who figure out how to apply for benefits are initially denied.”
The fact that not everyone is able to fight through the complexities of the Social Security Administration is why the Benefits Law Center was created and is at the core of our mission. Since our founding, we have worked to narrowly tailor our projects to make sure every group of underrepresented individuals has access to legal advocacy when they need it most.
When asked why Donna supports the Benefits Law Center, she smiled and said “Many reasons. It’s practical. Eligibility for SSI or SSDI benefits opens the door to health care, housing, and other services which sick people desperately need. It’s efficient. To me, helping people access the already-established safety net is one of the most efficient ways to reduce the number of people experiencing homelessness in our region and heading off that likely for others who are insecure in their housing/pre-homeless. It’s compassionate. With the recently completed Justice Bus, BLC and its community partners travel to people in need, further reducing barriers to access for people living with disabilities. BLC provides necessary services in a compassionate, culturally appropriate and informed way.”
In 2019, Benefits Law Center (BLC) achieved several long-term goals with a lot of help from our community. We increased our program staff by 40%, further expanded the number of locations where we offer onsite advocacy at community partner locations, engaged with more clients in our community than ever before, and we launched Washington State’s first Mobile Legal Unit, the Justice Bus. These achievements were made possible from the support of the strong community we have behind us.
Thanks to Donna and others like her, the Benefits Law Center was able to provide services to over 1,400 individuals in 2019, but we estimate that at any time in King County alone, there are over 3,600-8,500 individuals that could use our support. Now more than ever, BLC clients need the support of incredibly generous people like Donna, who make the work that we do in the community possible.
With access to the social safety net created to support them, our community members gain access to mental and physical health care, food stability, and have a chance to exponentially re-engage with our community. In uncertain times like these, it is absolutely imperative our clients are able to navigate the systems that are in place to support them.
Donna, thank you for being a part of the Benefits Law Center. Your contributions make a difference in the lives of people in our community that need it most, in times where coming together as a community is more important now that ever. Keep an eye out for Donna at BLC events, and feel free to reach out to Shannon Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206)686-7252×112 if you would like to get more involved like Donna!