Legal Aid Society of Northeastern N.Y. celebrates the opening of new location

Mark Kilmer, president of Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce and Lillian Moy, executive director of the Legal Aid Society, center, cut the ribbon for the opening of its new location at 6 Market St., Amsterdam on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

AMSTERDAM — The Legal Aid Society of Northeastern New York celebrated the opening of their new location in the city on Thursday with a ribbon cutting that featured guest speakers from local representatives.

LASNNY opened its new location at 6 Market St., Amsterdam along with a new free ride pilot program to help provide transportation services to their clients.

“I feel very excited. The space is beautiful. It’s very welcoming and it’s respectful for clients,” said Lillian Moy, executive director of LASNNY. “We really believe our clients deserve to be served professional space and it’s great space for my colleagues. They are happy, so I am happy. The offices have more light and they’re spacious.”

As to how the free ride program works, Moy said each attorney at the Amsterdam location will have information about local resources available and will use those resources if possible. If not, attorneys will go to the managing attorney who will order a ride for clients using Uber.

Moy said the idea came from Victor Mazzotti, of Martin Harding and Mazzotti law firm who is sponsoring the free ride program.

Lillian Moy, executive director of the Legal Aid Society speaks at the ribbon cutting for the opening of their new location at 6 Market St., Amsterdam on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

“He was asking me ‘What do clients do when they need a ride?’ and I really did not have a good response,” Moy said.

She said there aren’t a lot of alternatives for transportation.

“Here we’re serving counties with almost no public transportation and they need to get around for court hearing or an administrative hearing,” Moy said. “This free ride is a pilot and we are really excited to see how it works. We’re committed to using the existing resources, getting connected to the transportation programs that do exist.

The Legal Aid Society provides free civil legal services, education and advocacy for people with low income or other barriers to accessing the legal system. Their mission is to fight for “fairness, dignity, and justice for those living in poverty and for a society which is inclusive and equitable for all. We transform lives, build community and empower people by using the law to address individual and systemic wrongs and inequities.”

The Legal Aid Society have attorneys and paralegals who provide services including legal assessment, advice, brief service and representation in a broad range of civil cases such as consumer, education, employment, family, foreclosures, health, housing, income maintenance, individual rights, juvenile, miscellaneous, tax and veterans.

Victor Mazzotti, treasurer of Martin Harding and Mazzoti law firm speaks at the ribbon cutting for the opening of the Legal Aid Society's new location at 6 Market St., Amsterdam on Thursday. The Legal Aid Society also launched its new free ride piolet program to help give their clients transportaion services. The free ride program is being sponsored by Martin Harding and Mazzottii. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Speakers at the ribbon cutting included: Moy; Erica Ludwick, managing attorney for the Legal Aid Society Amsterdam location; Mazzotti; Amsterdam Deputy Mayor James Martuscello; Kelly Quist-Demars with Congressman Paul Tonko’s office; Jennifer Donovan with Sen. Jim Tedisco’s office; and Mark Kilmer, president of the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m very excited to be here to open up this new Amsterdam office, it’s a great location,” Mazzotti said. “The work that this organization does is unbelievable.”

He said LASNNY serves over 16 counties and last year the organization closed over 10,000 files. Mazzotti said the Amsterdam office handled 1,866 cases serving 3,919 people. The Amsterdam office covers Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties.

“For the legal aid client, resolution of a legal problem is the difference sometimes between homeless and having a home, between violence and safety from domestic abuse, the difference between poverty and basic income for these people,” Mazzotti said. “The staff and attorneys that work diligently and hard for all of their clients are constantly fighting the injustices that these low-income people are facing. Legal aid provides hope to those in legal need.” Martuscello, 5th Ward Alderperson gave a proclamation to LASNNY, giving them recognition from the Amsterdam mayor’s office, and Donovan gave them a state Senate Citation from Sen. Tedisco’s office.

“Thank you for being that phone call, that listening ear and an advocate for people that are most in need in our community,” said Quist-Demars, representing Congressman Paul Tonko.

Mark Kilmer, president of Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce and Lillian Moy, executive director of the Legal Aid Society, center, cut the ribbon for the opening of its new location at 6 Market St., Amsterdam on Thursday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

Kilmer told a story of a women who had contacted him and told him she was losing her home for foreclosure.

“There are so many people in our upstate region here that are going through that,” Kilmer said. “I felt her pain, I felt her emotion, I felt her desperation and it hit me. And what really hit me is I couldn’t tell her where to go.”

He said, now that he knows there is a department of foreclosure prevention, he wished he had that woman’s number to call her back.

“It’s those lives that transform our community,” Kilmer said. “And because of you, we can move forward and now I have a place to tell people to go.”

Ludwick said it was two years ago when she first came to the Amsterdam office.

“We’ve grown incredibly in the last two years. One of the biggest problems that we face was as we grew we out grew our old space and so the search for a new building began and was a year-long process,” Ludwick said. “Eventually, after surveying the area, one of the biggest problems we also face was accessibility. This space downtown in Amsterdam means the world to not only our clients but to our staff.”

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