Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc. (Harrisonburg, VA)

Name

  • Name:Mr. John Whitfield
  • Title:Executive Director/General Counsel

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc.
  • Address:P.O. Box 551
    204 North High Street
    Harrisonburg, VA 22803
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:540-433-1830
  • Main fax:540-433-2202

Organization Web

User Email

Location

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General

  • Mission:
  • Blue Ridge Legal Services, Inc. (BRLS) is a nonprofit charitable law firm providing free legal assistance in civil matters of critical importance to low-income residents of the Shenandoah Valley and Roanoke Valley. BRLS is committed to eliminating poverty-based inequities in the civil justice system by providing high-quality legal advice and representation to low-income residents of our service area, folks who would otherwise be unable to obtain legal help due to their poverty. Our mission is premised on the recognition that the American ideal of

  • Overview:
  • One of the most fundamental of all values in American society is the principle that all Americans are equal under the law, regardless of wealth or station in life. If our society wants its poorest citizens to “play by the rules,” then we must be able to show those citizens that “the rules” exist for their benefit and protection as well. From this perspective, equal access to justice is one of the most fundamental and compelling needs of the poor, particularly in matters that impact their rights relating to shelter, medical care, family relationships, and basic subsistence. Yet, while the government guarantees legal counsel to the poor when accused of criminal wrongdoing, there is no such guarantee for the far greater number of low-income Americans who are not accused of any criminal wrongdoing but who are facing serious legal crises of a civil nature. As a practical matter, access to legal assistance is essential for the vindication of one’s rights under the law. In effect, lawyers hold the keys to the courthouse. Unable to afford a lawyer, a low-income person is effectively locked out of our system of justice.

    Our mission, like other legal aid programs across the Commonwealth and the nation, is simply to provide our low-income neighbors in the community with a level playing field, by providing them with the legal assistance they cannot otherwise afford in civil matters of critical importance to their lives. We are one of nine non-profit legal aid societies licensed by the Virginia State Bar to provide free legal assistance in civil matters to low-income residents of our service area, which includes 25 cities and counties in western Virginia, stretching down the I-81 corridor from Frederick County in the north to Franklin County in the south. We serve this area out of our 4 full-time offices located in Winchester, Harrisonburg, Lexington, and Roanoke. See www.brls.org for a map of our service area and offices.

    Utilizing a small staff of attorneys, paralegals, and other support personnel, together with the volunteer efforts of scores of local attorneys who assist our clients on a pro bono basis, we provide free legal assistance in civil (that is, non-criminal) matters in issues of critical importance to our clients.

    Certainly the promotion of the principle of “equal justice under law” improves the quality of life for low-income residents facing injustice, giving them faith in our legal system. But while the philosophical aspiration of equal justice is a powerful if idealistic goal, our program’s goals can also be defined in more pragmatic terms of real life impact and basic needs of the poor. The need for justice does not arise in a vacuum, but instead manifests in a variety of legal crises that can turn a person’s life upside down if not resolved fairly. An illegal eviction by an oppressive landlord, the terror of domestic violence, the fear of losing a home or car because of a crush of debts, the inability to navigate the sometimes Byzantine regulatory maze that governs Medicaid eligibility in order to obtain medical care, are all too common life-altering disasters for low-income Valley residents that can often be avoided by timely access to competent legal assistance. Unresolved legal problems are often a root cause of a client’s state of poverty.

    The legal assistance we provide ranges from advice or brief service to ongoing representation in negotiations and litigation, depending on the needs of the client, the type of case, and available resources. It is focused in addressing the most pressing civil legal problems confronted by the community’s low-income residents, including consumer/finance issues (including predatory lending, bankrupcy, consumer fraud, etc.), housing (including foreclosures and evictions), domestic violence and other family law issues, public benefit problems (including unemployment benefits and SSI), access to health care (such as Medicaid, Medicare, and nursing home issues), and wills for low-income elderly clients.

    Eligibility for our services is based on the applicant’s household income, which must generally fall below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines in order to qualify for our services. (For victims of domestic violence with income between 125% and 200% of the poverty guidelines, we have a separate grant that allows us to represent a limited number of such clients.)

  • History:
  • In 1977, the first two legal aid programs in the Shenandoah Valley were formed, one in Waynesboro, Blue Ridge Legal Aid Society, the other in Harrisonburg, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Legal Aid Society. These two fledgling organizations merged in 1979, becoming Blue Ridge Legal Services, with a service area that covered the Shenandoah Valley from Winchester to Staunton and Waynesboro.

    Beginning in 1980, BRLS operated full-time offices in Winchester, Harrisonburg and Staunton. Due to federal funding cuts in 1983, BRLS was forced to close its full-time Staunton office; instead, we have maintained a small office space there staffed by appointment by our Harrisonburg office staff.

    In 2001 our service area was doubled to include the Rockbridge region and Roanoke Valley, with offices in Lexington and Roanoke in addition to the ones in Winchester and Harrisonburg.

  • Year established:1977
  • Endowment:Unknown

Staff

  • Executive / Trustee board size:18
  • Advisory board size:0
  • Staff size:19

Board and Executive Names

  • Board Members / Trustees:
  • Dana J. Cornett, Esq. President
    Renee Warsing, Vice President
    Dr. Arthur J. Hamilton, Secretary/Treasurer
    Kimberlee Shubert
    Levanda Crump
    Mary L.C. Daniel, Esq.
    Janet W. Hayes
    B. Webb King, Esq.
    Carolyn Madden Perry, Esq.
    Holly S. Peters, Esq.
    Mark Reed, Esq.
    Douglas Woodworth, Esq.
    Kathleen L. Wright, Esq.

  • Executive Director / President:
  • John E. Whitfield, Executive Director/General Counsel

Registration

  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:54-1048944

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:541048944
  • Organization Name:BLUE RIDGE LEGAL SERVICES INC
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:
  • Care Of Name:% WANDA HOLSAPPLE
  • Organization Address:PO BOX 551
  • Organization City:HARRISONBURG
  • Organization State:VA
  • Organization Zip:22803-0551
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:June, 1977
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):994, 560, 462
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):Described in section 170(b)1)(a)(vi) of the Code, Supplying money, goods or services to the poor, Legal aid to indigents
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:December, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:December
  • NTEE Code:I80Z
  • Asset Amount:$1,619,285
  • Asset Code:6 ($1,000,000 - $4,999,999)
  • Income Amount:$2,296,435
  • Income Code:6 ($1,000,000 - $4,999,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$2,296,435
  • Last Updated:2/25/2018 9:54:00 am

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.