Volunteer Success Stories: February 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

Here's what our volunteers have been up to this month!


Peter ran a successful landscaping business for years.  Sadly, in the summer of 2011, his tools were stolen during his most lucrative time of year.  This crisis was exacerbated when he fell seriously ill for several months and he could not afford to purchase replacement equipment.  As a result, he fell behind in his mortgage payments.

Volunteer Attorney Bernard Wolfe represented Peter in his efforts to obtain a loan modification. Based on Attorney Wolfe’s counsel, Peter concluded that modifying his loan in light of his property value did not make sense for his family.  Attorney Wolfe discussed the pros and cons of allowing the foreclosure to run its course, and the various dignified exit options, including short sale. 

Peter elected to pursue a short sale and the lender has indicated that they will waive their right to seek a personal deficiency. Thank you Bernard for your pragmatic counsel.


Genny was a union carpenter for years before being laid off in 2008.  For a while, she didn’t qualify for a modification of her mortgage because, with only temporary work, she could not demonstrate consistency in her income. However, once she found a full-time union carpentry position,  her CVLS volunteer, Mark Laws, helped her negotiate a permanent modification that yielded  an affordable monthly mortgage payment.

Mark’s steadfast commitment to Genny’s case, coupled with Genny’s single-minded determination, resulted in a saved home.  Well done!


Volunteer Attorney Barbara Snider went above and beyond the call of duty to help Sally Renter negotiate a dignified exit from her home. 

When her case was sent to the foreclosure mediation program, Sally was not sure what to do because her home was worth much less than what she owed the bank. 

Barbara worked tirelessly to help Sally explore all of her options and determine the best course of action, going to Sally’s home in person on several occasions to collect documents needed for negotiations with the bank, as Sally did not have ready access to a fax machine or a scanner.  

Ultimately, Barbara saw Sally all the way through a Consent Judgment, which ensured that Sally could move out of her condo without any remaining debt to the bank. 


CVLS 711 Volunteer Kasia Kaczmarczyk represented CVLS client Reyna, a retired grandmother, in the mortgage foreclosure mediation program, and was able to secure a modification of her mortgage. 

Reyna was able to keep her condo, where she lives with her daughter and two grandchildren.  Thanks to Kat, Reyna’s entire family got to stay in their home. 


Paralyzed for most of his life, Ronzell always insisted on maintaining his independence.  Thanks to a home care worker provided by the Department of Health and Human Services he’d been able to live alone for years.  Last year, during a routine review of his case, DHHS determined that, although his condition had not changed, he was no longer eligible for services. According to the decision, Ronzell could “scoot” without the use of his legs, to go up and down the stairs without assistance and to bathe himself. 

Ronzell appealed the decision and CVLS volunteer Steven Malato, of Hinshaw and Culbertson, agreed to help.  A seasoned practitioner in the Chancery courts, Steve enlisted the help of Ronzell’s doctor to provide the medical evidence necessary to prove DHHS wrong.  Eventually, DHHS admitted that “scooting” was not in Ronzell’s best interest. The agency reversed its decision and restored Ronzell’s home care worker.


The Latin United Chicago Housing Association (LUCHA) is a not-for-profit that works to strengthen communities and empower Latinos and other neighborhood residents to plan, improve, own, preserve and develop safe and life-enriching housing. Among a variety of free bilingual programs for low income Chicagoans, LUCHA rehabs and rents high quality, affordable apartments for low income families and individuals.

In the summer of 2012, LUCHA was sued by its workers compensation insurer for $36,000. The insurer alleged that LUCHA was responsible for paying the workers’ comp premium for subcontractors hired and paid by the firm retained to rehab apartments.

Volunteer Attorney Patrick Miller of Faegre Baker Daniels agreed to represent LUCHA. After nearly two years of negotiation and preparation with the trial date looming, LUCHA settled its portion of the case for $7,000—less than its offer prior to litigation.

Thrilled with this result and ready to focus on more important business, LUCHA’s Executive Director thanked Patrick for his leadership and guidance.    

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