Slice of Life

Two Syracuse nonprofits will host third annual Justice Walk/Run to benefit immigrants

Courtesy of Justice Walk/Run

Organizations like OnVLP and HLAS help immigrants establish a home and foundation in central New York. This Wednesday, they're hosting the third annual Justice Walk/Run at Onondaga Lake Park.

Promote justice, win prizes and get that cardio in — all in the same evening.

The Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, also known as OnVLP, and Hiscock Legal Aid Society have come together to organize the third annual Justice Walk/Run at Onondaga Lake Park on Wednesday, Sept. 13. Both OnVLP and HLAS administer free legal assistance to marginalized residents of central New York.

The two nonprofits provide representation and information in regard to family court, housing and homeless advocacy, LGBTQ legal issues, and immigration. All proceeds from the Justice Walk/Run will be put toward a joint immigration project.

This year’s run comes with a new twist: Participants are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite Supreme Court justices. Organizers added the theme to attract a wider range of participants and hope more college students will get involved. The family-friendly event brings awareness to real and daunting issues affecting Syracuse communities.

“Students don’t understand just how much need there is,” said Sally Fisher Curran, executive director of OnVLP.

Over the last several years, tens of thousands of immigrants have resettled in upstate New York, particularly in Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse.

“They do a lot for refugees here,” said Khadija Muse, a case manager at Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment, further stating that refugees and immigrants “just need someone they can turn to until they find their way.”

The assistance and support offered in central New York is lacking in other parts of the country. But assisting such a large population is expensive. RISE plans to spend approximately $8,000 this year on interpreters alone. OnVLP also helps facilitate processes like naturalization, resettlement and asylum.

Last year, the Justice Walk/Run raised more than $5,000. The funds from the run will be used to support services not covered by grants. But it’s difficult to determine what exactly the funds will be allocated toward this year.

“The needs of our clients really varies,” said Jason Torreano, the Justice for All campaign director at HLAS. “Each client presents different challenges.”

With limited resources, collaboration between HLAS and OnVLP becomes all the more important. Today, immigrants are navigating tougher waters, and services like a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals renewal clinic or a Know Your Rights clinic are essential to families in their pursuit of establishing a life in central New York.

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