2017 was the start of something big
1. We funded an attorney for a year
A partnership between lawyers and doctors may sound unconventional; however, the alliance between Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) and participating health-care institutions in the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership (NFMLP) is part of a national model. Medical-legal partnerships combine the resources of medical and legal professionals to improve health outcomes for low-income and vulnerable patients and help them thrive. The NFMLP, in particular, is a team of local pediatric health-care providers and organizations working together with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid to ensure that children not only have access to the best possible medical care but also to justice. Low-income families with children who are sick or have a disability are particularly susceptible to civil legal issues. The ability of parents, guardians, and caregivers to work or take classes is hindered by the need to attend numerous medical appointments and Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, pick up a sick child from school, or stay up all night to care for their child when there is no nurse. Imagine the stress of living in an apartment overrun with pests when your child has a suppressed immune system.
Imagine navigating the complex web of Medicaid and other public benefits when all you can focus on are the 24/7 needs of your medically fragile child. Imagine a health plan refusing to speak with you about your 18-year-old's benefits because you don’t have guardianship in place. The NFMLP leverages the expertise of the medical providers and legal aid's wealth of poverty law knowledge to help these families overcome stressors they should not be expected to cope with given what their lives already demand.
These young patients and their families are the reason Mike Freed runs. Mike Freed's fundraising efforts, combined with ongoing financial support from the Baptist Health Foundation, enable JALA to house a full-time NFMLP attorney onsite at Wolfson Children's Hospital and nearby pediatric clinics. The $70,000 raised in 2017 was enough to fund an attorney for an entire year. To see some of the people that the NFMLP has benefited, please click here to read a few success stories.
2. An endowment was established
Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) recently established an endowment that started with the funding generated during attorney Michael Freed’s, “Freed to Run” 2017 effort. JALA aims to raise $1 million over the next five years to fund the endowment. As part of the Securing Tomorrow Together Campaign that ended on December 31, 2017, Baptist Health is matching JALA’s $1 million with an additional $1.25 million, bringing the endowment total to $2.25 million and more than doubling the impact.
The funding will be used to continue JALA’s work through the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership (NFMLP). JALA partners with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Wolfson Children’s Hospital, UF Health Specialty Pediatric Clinics and Community PedsCare to screen for and address health-harming civil legal aid needs in the pediatric patient population.
The NFMLP serves more than 200 children per year, solving legal issues that impact their health care.
The endowment principal will be held in perpetuity, while earnings from the invested assets help pay for legal services offered to children with medicolegal needs. These services include access to health insurance and other public benefits, advocacy in family law, consumer protection, immigration, and ensuring safe and affordable housing.
Fundraising efforts are underway. If you are interested in providing a contribution, you may donate online; or mail your donation to: Endowment, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, 126 W. Adams Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202.
3. We decided to go bigger
In 2018, Mike Freed will do it again, but Freed To Run is now much more than a solo effort.
Freed to Run 2.0 is a now a six marathons in six days point to point relay, with teams joining Freed and covering the distance by taking turns throughout the day. While each team member runs, teammates shuttle ahead. Each day at 7:30 a.m., relay teams will begin at a North Florida courthouse on a six marathons in six days quest.
Freed to Run donations will go to the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) Endowment for the Northeast Florida Medical Legal Partnership. The Baptist Health Foundation will match all donations by 125%.
Join our Freed to Run relay teams as they finish by running a 5K to the finish line from the Jacksonville Farmers Market to the Duval County Courthouse on Friday, December 7, 2018. The run begins at 3:15 pm. Register here.