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SIU School of Law Elder Law Clinic Wins Governor's Engaging Aging Award

ILLINOIS, November 28 - CARBONDALE, Ill. - The Southern Illinois University School of Law legal clinic for older adults is the recipient of a 2022 Governor's Engaging Aging Award, presented annually to up to 13 community organizations that have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact in the lives of older adults over the past year.


The clinic provides free legal services to persons aged 60 and older who live in Illinois' 13 southernmost counties.


"I'm thrilled to award the Southern Illinois University School of Law legal clinic for elders with the 2022 Governor's Engaging Aging Award," said Governor JB Pritzker. "This small, but mighty team has provided hundreds of older adults in southern Illinois with the free services they need and deserve as they navigate the complicated legal system. To the law students, attorneys, and staff that make this clinic possible: thank you for your service to Illinois and congratulations on this extraordinary accomplishment."


"Legal services can be costly, especially for retirees living on a fixed income," said IDoA Director Paula Basta. "SIU's elder law clinic makes these services accessible to older adults who otherwise could not afford them, including grandparents raising grandchildren. The clinic takes on a weighty caseload every year, providing a tremendous amount of service across a large geographic region, and I'm so impressed with their work."


Nominated for the Governor's Engaging Aging Award by the Egyptian Area Agency on Aging, the law school's elder law clinic is managed by one attorney, an office manager, and a small team of law students. Their typical cases include drafting wills, powers of attorney for health care and property, and representing clients in guardianship proceedings.


"SIU School of Law was established 50 years ago in the public interest to serve the public good, and for more than 30 years, this clinic has been a part of the law school curriculum," said Camille M. Davidson, SIU School of Law dean. "It provides students with hands-on learning opportunities and serves people who are often marginalized and may not otherwise have access to legal services. It is an honor that Professor O'Neill and her students have received this recognition. I am proud of the work our students and faculty do for the Southern Illinois community."


Egyptian Area Agency on Aging Executive Director Becky Salazar is extremely grateful for the SIU School of Law to be part of the aging network in southern Illinois.


"The legal services provided are of high quality," said Salazar. "SIU usually performs all of the work for their funding in the first month of the fiscal year. The legal provider continues to take as many cases as possible for


the entire year, even without full reimbursement for the work performed. Even when the school is technically closed during summer and holidays, SIU has assisted older adults on numerous occasions to ensure older persons would be safe with emergency guardianship assistance and with guardianship for grandchildren when there was concern over the care of the children."


The Egyptian Area Agency on Aging and IDoA are hosting an award ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 3 p.m. in the Hiram H. Lesar Law Building, located at 1150 Douglas Drive on the SIU Carbondale campus. The ceremony is open to the press.


IDoA serves and advocates for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity, and quality of life. For information about the Department's programs and services for older adults and persons with disabilities, visit https://www2.illinois.gov/aging/programs or contact the Senior HelpLine toll-free at 1-800-252-8966, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.