Volunteer Success Stories: February 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015

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



Keira, a mildly learning disabled part-time college student, was only 18 years old when she became pregnant with her second child. She was taking great care of her 3-year-old son and going to school, but didn’t feel she could care for another child. She contacted an adoption agency and began receiving prenatal care. 

Everything was fine, but the baby came weeks early, early in the morning. Keira delivered very quickly in her bathroom at home before she really knew what was happening. 

Unfortunately, the baby didn’t survive long enough for the paramedics to arrive.

To add to the families’ misfortune, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services “indicated” Keira for child neglect. An “indicated” finding would remain on her record for 50 years and make it impossible for her to realize her dream of becoming a nurse. 

Keira appealed the DCFS decision and Judge Kathleen Pantle appointed CVLS under the Access to Justice Program. Kirkland & Ellis attorney Jessica Frickedug into the case, reviewing the transcript of the hearing and reviewing relevant DCFS regulations and case law. Her fight for Keira was successful—DCFS’ decision was overturned. Keira is now able to become the nurse she’s always wanted to be.



When Emy was laid off of her job, the loss of income caused her to default on her mortgage, and before she knew it, she was in foreclosure. Despite her devastation, Emy was determined to make the best of the situation. She returned to school for the few remaining classes she needed to earn her Bachelor’s degree, and found another job. 

Knowing she didn’t want to go through a foreclosure process without legal help, she also asked that her foreclosure suit be referred to the Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. 

Once in the mediation program, her new attorney, CVLS volunteer Marc Abramson, worked to secure Emy a loan modification based on her new income. Unfortunately, her income was still too low to qualify her for a loan modification. This would have deterred many people – but not Emy and Marc. He fought to keep her case in the mediation program. 

Soon after, Emy graduated from college and got a teaching job. Her new salary qualified her for a modification. Marc submitted the application documents and Emy was offered a trial modification, which was later converted to a permanent modification. Now Emy is living comfortably in her home and enjoying her new career, thanks to her persistent attorney.



When Elizabeth had to close her business, she immediately got another job, but couldn’t catch up on her mortgage payments. 

Volunteer John Fehr took Elizabeth’s case through the Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. 

Elizabeth ran into unexpected trouble after she accepted a trial modification. While her monthly mortgage payment was $1050, her bank limited certified checks at $1000. Naturally, she got two separate checks and sent them together, but the bank rejected the payment - for this reason - and denied her a modification. 

John refused to accept such ridiculousness. He won the fight to reinstate her trial plan. Elizabeth now has a permanent modification.


Ross and Gretchen had lived in their home for nearly 25 years when hard times hit. Ross had extensive heart surgery, Gretchen’s real estate business got hit by the recession, and their newly-installed roof was severely damaged by hail. They fell behind on their mortgage and tried to remedy the situation themselves. 

That resulted in three different repayment agreements with the bank, none of which ever caught them up on their payments or modified their mortgage. 

Thankfully, Ross and Gretchen entered the Circuit Court of Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program and volunteer attorney Cheryl Robinson agreed to take their case. She submitted an initial application for a loan modification, which was denied. 

That might have been the end for Ross and Gretchen, had it not been for Cheryl. She fought tirelessly and eventually got the bank to agree to make several exceptions to their standard rules. 

It took nearly a year, but finally Cheryl was successful! Ross and Gretchen now have a permanent modification and are safe and secure in their home, permanently.

After the case, they were so happy with the result that Ross sent a heartfelt thank-you note to Cheryl: 

“I would like to express (our) sincere gratitude for all your counsel & wisdom (and patience!) as we travelled along this long and uncertain journey.  I am not so sure how we would have fared, were it not for your help.  Thank you does not convey enough our deepest appreciation, but thank you nevertheless. In any event, we are very pleased with the outcome and are grateful that CVLS allowed for your continuity and follow-thru with this unnecessarily so, extremely complicated (nee arduous) case.”