This is a big week at Benach Collopy as a number of important projects are coming together and we are very excited to share them with you.
First, we are very pleased to introduce Maria Celina Marquez as the inaugural Benach Collopy- Whitman Walker Health Fellow for Trans Asylum. This fellowship is a collaboration between Benach Collopy and Whitman Walker Health, to provide a law student with a summer fellowship to work on asylum cases for transgender people. The fellowship is provided in response to the horrific violence facing transgender people in many countries, but particularly Central America. We will utilize Whitman Walker’s strong outreach efforts to identify clients and the legal resources and asylum expertise at Benach Collopy to provide the best representation possible for the clients.
Celina just completed her second year of law school at George Washington. A native Texan, Celina is very familiar with border issues and the need for excellent legal work coupled with a strong sense of humanity in addressing the plight of refugees seeking protection in the United States. Celina has worked with Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid and Frida, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to providing at-risk youth with an opportunity to learn and grow with art. Celina is passionate about immigrant rights and LGBTI rights and we are very excited to bring her on board.
Last week, Benach Collopy stalwarts Ava Benach, Liana Montecinos, and Naya Gonzalez joined Celina at a training from Whitman Walker to learn how to assist trans people with obtaining name and gender marker changes on documentation. We look forward to being able to do this for our clients. Thanks to everyone at Whitman Walker who provided an informative and entertaining training session.
Also, this Wednesday, Whitman Walker Health Legal Services is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a party at the Hamilton. Ava Benach is serving as the Co-Chair of the event with Matthew Reinhard. Whitman Walker Health Legal Services got its start responding to the HIV crisis, helping people who could not get medical care, housing or employment. Today, Whitman Walker is responding to the violence against LGBT populations in Central America by helping people seek asylum, benefits and proper documentation.
Wednesday night will be a chance to reflect on the progress for Whitman Walker Legal Services. It will feature a performance from the Gay Men’s Chorus, auction items from the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals. It will be a really fun and special event and we hope that you can join us there. You can buy tickets or donate here.