A Visit with Ordinary Heroes

A mother survives domestic abuse, but realizes she needs a civil protection order, as well as custody of her child, but she may not be able to afford legal representation.

Five years ago, a group of lawyers came together to support clients like her. They founded the DC Volunteers Lawyer Project (DCVLP) to recruit, train, and support attorneys to provide pro-bono services in three areas: (1) domestic violence, including with divorce, custody, child support, and immigration matters, (2) high-conflict child custody cases, and (3) assisting foster parents.

The DCVLP now has more than 700 volunteer lawyers who provide pro-bono services.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting the DCVLP. I met with the remarkable founders and staff, listened to the story of a former client serving on the board, and heard about all the great work they are doing every single day here in Washington, DC.

I was especially delighted to visit just one week after President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization into law.

As he said during his remarks:

So today is about all the survivors, all the advocates who are standing on this stage. But it’s also about the millions more they represent — that you represent. It’s about our commitment as a country to address this problem — in every corner of America, every community, every town, every big city — as long as it takes.

That commitment is reflected in DCVLP and so many other organizations like it all across the country. I left the visit feeling so inspired and moved by the actions of these citizens to help their fellow Americans. They are a wonderful example of what happens when a few people come together to live out the truth of “I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper.”

For more information on the VAWA reauthorization, click here.

— Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement