spotlight

Cathy Blackstone

A Fulfilled Life through Volunteering at ALRP

In 2006, Cathy Blackstone had her hands full at work, but it wasn’t enough to keep her satisfied. She wanted to volunteer in her spare time, and she wanted to make a difference with an organization that served the LGBT community and advanced civil rights. When she went online and started looking for opportunities to serve on a nonprofit board, ALRP became the beneficiary of her boundless energy.

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Fragrance-Free Care for Client

Whenever ALRP client Stokes first enters a space—the hallways of his apartment building, a city bus, a restaurant—only one thing crosses his mind. “Is this space safe for me?” In addition to being HIV-positive, Stokes suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Exposure to perfume or cologne causes him nausea, headaches, and difficulty breathing. Ironically, safe access to medical facilities has been one of his biggest challenges.

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Defending Clients Hurt on the Job

Panel attorney Michelle Mandel always wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, a successful personal injury lawyer. Through her father’s work, Michelle learned that not only can traumatic accidents and negligent medical treatment be painful and debilitating, but they can often result in significant healthcare costs and lost wages.

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Saving Clients’ Long-Term Disability Income

Panel attorney Cassie Springer-Sullivan knew since she was sixteen years old that she wanted to be an attorney and use her skills, knowledge, and empathy to assist people in times of crisis. Cassie started her own law firm in 2008 and is committed to serving ALRP clients with disabling HIV/AIDS who suffer the devastation of losing their long-term disability income.

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Matt Maintains Mobility

When HIV began to impair his ability to walk, ALRP client Matt ordered a motorized wheelchair and eagerly awaited its delivery. However, he soon realized that the elevator in his building was too small to accommodate the wheelchair. When his landlord refused to accommodate his disability, Matt turned to ALRP staff attorney Diana Hughes and Panel attorney Andrew Westley.

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A New Home for Hector

Searching for housing in the San Francisco Bay Area is undeniably stressful. But for a person living with HIV/AIDS, the inability to secure safe, affordable housing can lead to homelessness or exile from San Francisco. A new home would cement a long-awaited new beginning for ALRP client Hector R. When Hector’s application to an affordable housing development was denied in January 2010, he turned to ALRP for assistance.

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Helping Clients Recover from Financial Problems

Mounting medical bills and credit card debt can feel crushing for ALRP clients. ALRP Panel attorney Mark Chernev sees bankruptcy as a helpful option for clients who have fallen on tough times. “My work is very rewarding,” Mark says. “It’s my goal to help clients gain financial control over their lives and give them a fresh start.”

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Kevin Urbatsch

Changing Clients’ Lives with Special Needs Trusts

Imagine being forced to choose between life-saving medical benefits and accepting the heartfelt gift bequeathed by a loved one who has passed away. With his specialized knowledge of special needs trusts, ALRP Panel attorney Kevin Urbatsch prevents individuals with disabilities from having to choose.

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Challenging Workplace Discrimination

Unfortunately, harassment and discrimination can be common occurrences for people living with HIV. Yet many of these injustices go unchallenged due to the time, energy, and stress of asserting one’s rights while struggling with the day-to-day challenges of managing a chronic medical condition.

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