By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great article on Margaret Duval, the executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, a small group of attorneys housed in the courthouse of Chicago’s centralized domestic violence court.
When I feel discouraged about Chicago and its toll on the human spirit, on human life, all too often, I look around for the people making a difference.
It’s a variation, I suppose, on that wonderful Mr. Rogers quote. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news,” he said, “my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”
Margaret Duval is one. She’s the executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, a small group of attorneys housed in the courthouse at 555 W. Harrison St., the site of Chicago’s centralized domestic violence court.
Duval and her staff provide free, same-day legal services to families in the midst of a crisis or its immediate aftermath.
I met Duval when Illinois was experiencing its own crisis, yet another year without a state budget, and I was looking around for social service providers who needed to get creative to keep the lights on.
The clinic hadn’t received any state funding since August 2016, and Duval and her staff were relying heavily on private donors to fill the gaping hole where about $249,000 should be. A grant paid for by the Victims of Crime Act helped, that’s federal legislation passed in 1984 that set up a fund to compensate crime victims. But that didn’t cover general operating expenses.
Shortly after Duval and I met, the state passed a budget.
“I’m really grateful to all of the people who have spoken up and advocated for compromise,” Duval told me. “And I’m relieved that Illinoisans did not accept dysfunction as the new normal.”