Mentors, Young Mothers Learn From Sisters In Law Pairings

By Jennifer Feehan
The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

WWR Article Sumary (tl;dr) With the “Sisters in Law” program, female lawyers act as pro bono legal counsel for several low-income single mothers at Mom’s House. Mom’s House works to break the cycle of poverty that single mothers from low-income families often get caught up in.

The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

When a young woman enrolled at Mom’s House needed legal help, Executive Director Christina Rodriguez made a quick call to her friend, Toledo lawyer Gretchen DeBacker.

When two more emergency calls followed in the next few months, Ms. DeBacker got an idea.

She called on a small army of female lawyers to act as pro bono legal counsel for the low-income single mothers at Mom’s House, and before long, the aptly named Sisters in Law program was born.

That was 2014.

Today, the 21 lawyers Ms. DeBacker recruited are providing more than free legal representation. They are mentors and role models, fellow mothers, and friends.

“It’s critical for the young ladies to learn how to navigate the legal system especially when it comes to their child,” Ms. Rodriguez said. “However, using that component to build relationships — that’s where the uniqueness of the program comes in because now we have these professional women that have this connection to these young ladies.”

Located at 2505 Franklin Ave., not far from Mercy Health St. Vincent Medical Center, Mom’s House works to break the cycle of poverty that single mothers from low-income families often get caught up in.

The organization attempts to impact two generations by helping the moms finish their education and by giving their children high-quality day care and preschool that ensures they’re ready for kindergarten.

Twenty-two-year-old Maraysia Dean was paired with her mentor, Kathryn Sandretto, in 2014 shortly after the birth of her now-3-year-old daughter, Aniyla. They talk or text regularly and get together for lunch once a month.

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