Author Archives: Jennifer

About Jennifer

Jennifer Wyatt, the Executive Director of R2JNC and a North Carolina lawyer.

Aiding the Elderly

According to the North Carolina State Demographics Unit, older adults are the fastest growing population in the state. The number of adults over 65 is expected to double from 2000 to 2030. Some rural counties with retirement communities, like Pamlico, have even more elderly residents. The poverty rate for the elderly in many rural areas tops 25%, making them some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Women make up 59% of adults over 65 in North Carolina. That ratio changes dramatically for adults over 85 to an astonishing 72% being female. Roads to Justice offers learning opportunities specifically for women in this demographic so that they may better advocate for themselves. seniorpov

There are resources out there for senior citizens (such as the Low Income Energy Assistance Program), but as we increasingly shift to a web-based society, folks without computers have increased barriers. Computers and technology presume a level of familiarity and literacy that our many of our elders do not have, some of whom retired before computers were commonplace. Roads to Justice delivers information in person and does not require an Internet connection.

We respect the experiences of the women we serve, and conduct our learning sessions as conversations. We believe more learning occurs when it’s interactive; it gives us a chance to learn from the participants and have a lot more fun!

Some of the workshops and clinics especially relevant to the elderly:

  • Consumer protection
  • Healthcare and the Law
  • Disability Law
  • Estate planning

In the future, Roads to Justice plans to add Internet literacy classes to our catalogue, as well as work with tech nonprofits to get more rural North Carolinians online.

It’s our honor to get to know long time residents of rural North Carolina. Stay tuned for news, updates, and the occasional interesting anecdote!

 

 

Not Legal Aid

apples-and-orangesWhile many legal service professionals immediately understand the difference between our mission and Legal Aid’s, I thought I would take a moment to explain the differences. In some senses our two organizations seem very much alike. Our goals are very similar- that low-income people are able to remove barriers to their future success. We also work together on projects, but our focus is very different.

Roads to Justice provides legal education. Legal Aid focuses on legal services. One way to think about it is that Roads to Justice provides DIY information. Our goal is to increase the legal literacy of rural communities, which will hopefully lighten Legal Aid’s load. Often in life we find ourselves in with problems where a little more legal information would be helpful, but doesn’t quite rise to a level that requires a lawyer. On the other hand, if a lawyer really is required, we are able to make referrals and connect people with appropriate assistance.

Legal Aid NC, like Roads to Justice, does offer workshops. For example, they have a once a month video workshop on child custody. The differences are that we offer workshops on a variety of areas, based completely on what legal issues are most pressing to the women in the communities we visit, and  that we work in person. We figure workshops are only useful if people know about them and actually attend. Two-way communication is the most important aspect of our work. Legal Aid attorneys cooperate with Roads to Justice, often being the presenters at our workshops.

We spend a great deal of time getting to know the community, through churches and community organizations. Also, unlike Legal Aid, we are not restricted in the legal areas we can discuss. Legal Aid does an amazing job with the resources they have. Roads to Justice works with many nonprofits to help them reach more people.

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Service Providers in Rural North Carolina

freud-on-screen150Rural towns are often unable to support full-time, permanent professionals. In many ways, medical and legal service providers are just like any other business owner, they also require a location with enough demand to support their supply. New technology helps bridge these gaps and bring services to rural areas.

Recently in North Carolina, psychiatrists began using Skype to connect to patients in rural emergency rooms, effectively reducing the wait for treatment. Some 28 out of 100 counties in North Carolina are without a psychiatrist. Similarly, many rural counties are without full-time, permanent attorneys. Roads to Justice seeks to address this issue through in-person outreach as well as using the latest technology.

One of the most exciting aspects of the communications technology boom is how accessible it is. Just years ago many of us cut short our long-distance phone calls because of the cost! Now if you’ve got a webcam and an Internet connection, you’re able to video chat with people all over the world for free. It’s astonishing but something we take for granted. However, people in many rural areas around the world are left out as high speed Internet connections have yet to arrive.

Roads to Justice brings information out to rural areas not able to take full advantage of the Internet. We provide classes and written information the old-fashioned way. At the same time, we work with law schools and technology nonprofits to assist the communities we serve link up with the Information Superhighway. Roads to Justice uses traditional methods and the latest technology to solve problems today, as well as prevent them in the future.

See this link for more about telepsychiatry in North Carolina.

 

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension

One of the greatest resources for all who live in North Carolina is the Cooperative Extension. Located in each of the 100 counties as well as with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the statewide partnerships works with public universities. They provide education in five areas: sustaining agriculture and forestry, protecting the environment, maintaining viable communities, developing responsible youth, and developing strong, healthy, and safe families. Roads to Justice works with offices around North Carolina to take advantage of networks and knowledge in the rural community.

ncce-100-logo-288pxThe Cooperative Extension was borne out of the Morrill Acts of 1862, one of the most important acts in American History for higher education. Recognizing the need for educated, practical decision-making, these laws gave federal land to the states to “land grant” colleges. Many of these universities make up our nation’s most prestigious public schools. North Carolina State University was established from these Acts. North Carolina A&T State University came out of later related acts from 1890. These schools focus on agriculture, science, and engineering.

Similarly, we at Roads to Justice provide education required for practical decision-making. Women in rural North Carolina make decisions for their families everyday. It’s important that they understand the legal implications of their decisions so that future problems are avoided. Education is fundamental to our success as individuals, families, and communities.

As always, your support of our mission is welcome! Please consider donating to Roads to Justice North Carolina so that we can continue providing much needed learning opportunities to families.

 

 

The North Carolina Tradition of Caring

colonial mapThe roots of North Carolina helping the poor go deep into history, all the way to the English Poor Laws when we were still an English colony. The Colonial Assembly charged the vestry of each parish to levy a tax for what was then referred to as “poor relief”. Dependent children were placed with families and learned a trade as an apprentice. It was simply a natural aspect of civilized life to care for the less fortunate.

The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 did not include any responsibility for the poor, but those responsibilities previously held by the local vestrymen were assumed by the elected overseers. In 1793 and 1831, the legislature authorized the building of almshouses with the use of county tax funds.

After the Civil War a new state constitution was drafted. The North Carolina Constitution of 1868 explicitly included a role for state government. Article XI Section 7 reads as follows:

“Beneficent provision for the poor, the unfortunate and orphan, being one of the first duties of a civilized and christian state, the General Assembly, shall at its first session, appoint and define the duties of a Board of Public Charities, to whom shall be entrusted the Supervision of all charitable and penal State institutions, and who shall annually report to the governor upon their condition, with suggestions for their improvement.”

In 1971, North Carolinians decided it was time for a new constitution and did not mince words regarding the importance of caring for the poor. Article 11 Section 4 continued the North Carolina tradition for caring for the poor. “Beneficent provision for the poor, the unfortunate, and the orphan is one of the first duties of a civilized and Christian state. Therefore the General Assembly shall provide for and define the duties of a board of public welfare.”

North Carolinians should be justly proud of their long history of concern for those suffering through hard times. Tar Heels are a thoughtful, practical people, and recognize that everyone needs help now and then. Those of us who can help, must. At Roads to Justice we seek to further that tradition well into the 21st century, making use of modern technology as well as good old-fashioned conversation.

In other upcoming post, we will discuss North Carolina’s dedication to education- also enshrined in the state’s most noble document- the Constitution!

Want to read more about North Carolina Constitutional History? Follow this link! And here is the link to our current Constitution. Enjoy!

 

 

Bayboro in Pamlico County

Pamlico County Courthouse, Bayboro NC

Pamlico County Courthouse, Bayboro NC

We visited Bayboro, NC. Although the population is less than 1,000 people, it’s the county seat of Pamlico.

We love playing tourist and snapping photos of the beautiful scenery. Enjoy!

Bayboro, NC

Bayboro, NC

Pamlico fishing industry

Pamlico fishing industry

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Outside Bayboro

Outside Bayboro

Thanks to all who came out for our Open House!

On Friday, May 2 we hosted an Open House. Dozens of friends and supporters came out to support our mission. Here are some photos from the event!

Our Board and ED

Our Board and ED, From left to right- April Giancola (Chair), Vanessa Lucas (Vice Chair), Jennifer Wyatt (Executive Director), Sarah Jessica Farber (Board Member), and Dan Hatley (Board Member)

 

 

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Our hosts, Max and Elena

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April Giancola, Chair and Jennifer Wyatt, Executive Director

April Giancola, Chair and Jennifer Wyatt, Executive Director

 

Jennifer Wyatt, Executive Director, about to speak on our upcoming project!

Jennifer Wyatt, Executive Director, about to speak on our upcoming project!

Twelve Layer Cake, a Southern Tradition!

 

April Giancola, R2JNC Chair

April Giancola, R2JNC Chair

Vanessa Lucas, R2JNC Vice Chair

Vanessa Lucas, R2JNC Vice Chair

Dan Hatley, R2JNC Board Member

Dan Hatley, R2JNC Board Member

Sarah Jessica Farber, R2JNC Board Member

Sarah Jessica Farber, R2JNC Board Member

Rusty and Blondie were there too!

Rusty and Blondie were there too!

All the cool chicks!

All the cool chicks!

Pamlico County History

A scene depicting an Algonquin village in the Carolinas, from the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum

Roads to Justice NC brings a positive, respectful approach to helping folks out in rural North Carolina. Our entire mission is built around the unique challenges faced by women and families outside our cities, but we also celebrate the life, history and culture of the communities we work with.

So we start with some historical background.

Pamlico County was inhabited by the most southern Algonquins on the Atlantic. Referred to as the “Pomoui” in the late 16th century by English colonists, small pox, warfare, and relocated decimated the local population. Accurate estimates are hard to come by, as disease often preceded European explorers, but by 1710 only  a few hundred Pamlicos remained. After war with the Tuscarora, only a few Pamlico survived.

Scenes like the one depicted to the left were often created by artists who never laid eyes on local life. Much of Pamlico’s early history is lost. However, we do know a few things. Trading in dugout canoes, some Pamlico goods have been found as far away as the North Atlantic. The Pamlico took advantage of their location on Pamlico Sound, between the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers, by consuming fish and shellfish. Later settlers would follow suit and rely on the waters surrounding Pamlico for their livelihood.

When R2JNC travels through Pamlico County, we recognize the wealth of history present. Please check back frequently as we share what we learn.

 

 

Roads to Justice Open House

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May 2, 2014 6-9 pm

Email jennifer@roadstojustice.org or call (919)442-8782 for address (in Raleigh). 

We are hosting an Open House! We are bursting at the seams with excitement over the latest developments at R2J and we want to share them with you. Come by anytime- we’ll be providing food and drinks, and talking about our latest plans. Our Board of Directors and Executive Director Jen Wyatt will be there to answer questions and have a good time.  Hope to see you there!

Board Meeting Update from ED Jennifer Wyatt

Yesterday R2J had a board meeting, full of big decisions and exciting prospects. Indeed, we have a lot to look forward to! Here are some of our highlights:

  • April Giancola was elected as chair of the board. Vanessa Lucas will be our vice chair. Thank you ladies for your hard work!
  • Our Open House was set for May 2, from 6-9 pm. Stay tuned for more details.
  • We discussed potential partnerships. R2J has many exciting opportunities to work with lawyers and other nonprofits. Every day it seems we add another coalition partner!
  • Development is going very well- we are able to work on three different fronts- rural issues, women’s issues, and legal services.
  • Perhaps the most exciting decision of the night- our next site! Watch out Pamlico County! We will be sharing more about the Pamlico’s history and culture, and facts about life there. Respect is important to R2J, not just of the women we work with, but of the community as a whole. We love North Carolina and can’t wait to get to work in Pamlico!

team-justice-leagueI would like to thank our entire Board of Directors for attending the meeting.Thank you, Kim, April, Vanessa, Sarah Jessica, and Dan!