The program's goal is break the binds that tie victims to their abusers.
MERCER, Pa. -- Victims of domestic violence in northwestern Pennsylvania will be able to get free legal assistance, thanks to a U.S. Department of Justice grant.
Lizette Olsen, executive director of Alternatives for Women: Advocacy, Resources and Education Inc., said the $350,000 grant to Northwestern Legal Services will provide services for 18 months.
Northwestern Legal Services is a nonprofit organization providing legal assistance to low-income people.
The grant will fund the Legal Assistance for Victims Grant Program, commonly referred to as the Blossom Project, in Mercer, Crawford, Venango, McKean, Warren and Forest counties.
Olsen said AWARE will refer its clients to the new program for legal help.
"It is a very positive step to reduce domestic violence in our community," she said.
Appointee: This will expand AWARE's legal advocacy program to include a full-time attorney dedicated to the legal needs of these victims, Olsen said, noting that Atty. David Remington has been appointed to that position and will work out of the Northwestern Legal Services office in Farrell.
AWARE's legal advocacy case manager, Margie Lytle, will administer the program, she said.
The Blossom Project will offer legal representation in lengthy cases such as divorce proceedings for victims who don't have the financial resources to hire their own attorney.
Legal advice and legal brief service will also be offered.
"By using legal aid to help break the ties that bind victims to their abusers, the Blossom Project hopes to enable victims and their children to stop the violence that permeates their lives," Lytle said.