Below is an excerpt from a March 3 article, published by The Boston Globe, about a former South Coastal Counties Legal Services client who spoke at the EJC’s annual lobby day.
CIVIL SUPPORT: Brockton resident Daniele Bien-Aime had a difficult spring in 2011. Her mother had just died, and a week later, Bien-Aime was diagnosed with breast cancer, which resulted in a bilateral mastectomy.
Things then got worse for Bien-Aime, a native of Haiti who was a Haitian Creole interpreter at a Brockton hospital. She lost her job because of the time she needed for her cancer treatment, which included chemotherapy, and so also lost her health insurance, and the ability to pay her rent and to care for her two teenage daughters.
However, that’s when things started to turn around. Through contacts at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, Bien-Aime heard about the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. She contacted the nonprofit organization, which got her in touch with Weayonnoh Nelson-Davies, who works for South Coastal Counties Legal Services. Eventually, Bien-Aime got her job and insurance back, avoided eviction from her apartment, and put her life back on track. Bien-Aime, 42, also became an American citizen last July.
“I could not have gotten through all that without her help,” Bien-Aime said of Nelson-Davies, calling her “heaven-sent.”
In late January, Bien-Aime was one of hundreds who took part in the 14th annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, where Governor Deval Patrick asked participants to urge their legislators to support increased funding for the state-supported Legal Assistance Corporation, which provides services for those who can’t afford to pay for them.
Bien-Aime, who declined to name the hospital where she works, said she developed an infection four months after her surgery, and that without insurance to help pay for her health care, “I would have died.”