One effect of radical economic inequality is to make it difficult for those of us who have sufficient income to imagine how little it takes to push a person over the edge—or to keep them from it. The fact that small amounts of money can make a huge difference in someone’s life is evident every day to the people who set up Olympia’s CARE fund.
The Community Assisted Resources for Equity (CARE) was formed about two years ago primarily to help people pay small fines to get a driver’s license reinstated. The fund’s purpose has since expanded to be available for many other court-related expenses that, if not paid, interfere with a person’s ability to get on with life.
Messages from some recent cases tell the story:
From a recipient of funds: Getting help from the Care Fund has changed my life. It gave me an incentive to try and achieve and set bigger goals for myself. I feel like I am getting my life back. I haven’t had a valid license for 20 years. Getting my license will help me get a job, a car and be truly independent.”
From a Public defense attorney: I want to let you know that having the help of the Care Fund has made my life better too! It is been incredible to be able to say to a client—I can help you get your license back AND I know a group that helps you pay for some of the expenses to get it back. Thank you so much for doing this—and please thank everyone else in the group.
From Olympia Public Defense Office: Thank you so much for offering these funds to our Community Court folks! We have a participant who is set to graduate soon except she cannot afford to pay the $43 conviction fee on each of her two cases, $86 total.
From PD Office: I have a gal that needs $251.68 to get her license reinstated (plus reinstatement fees). She is a 47 year old woman who separated from her husband. She has six children and he got custody because she had a medical incident. She has some potential job opportunities but must have a valid driver’s license.
If you would like to be part of the group that maintains the Fund, helps it grow and authorizes disbursements, get in touch with Wendy Tanowitz by email: firstname.lastname@example.org