How are you? Things are moving along pretty well here in New York City. I am all settled in the South Bronx and living at The Grail -- a community services organization. I live with 2 retired nuns (a throwback to my South Texas days at the convent!), and several women from/working in the community. These women have graciously allowed me to stay in their home free of cost. I love the neighborhood and have already run into people I know and work with out in the street.

And honestly, I recently had a very unexpected challenge.

My latest crowdfunder (on a new platform) was unexpectedly shut down on its third day. As you know, the last couple crowdfunding efforts went without a hitch (thanks to you all!). I haven't been able to fully share the story of what happened because I was in the middle of launching the new Virtual Law Office and relocating to the Bronx. And a recent donor suggested that I should share what transpired -- so, here goes:

That Friday in Chicago, I received a completely unexpected email stating that my new crowdfunding account had been closed -- with no explanation and no phone number for customer support.

After nearly a week of emailing back and forth, I was finally informed that the payment processor didn't want to take on the "risk" of supporting my crowdfunder. They were concerned about donations being used for "prepaid legal fees or some other activity" yet this was nowhere in their terms of service. I explained that I've been able to crowdfund this entire past year -- yet they wouldn't budge.

Frankly, since I left Oakland over a year ago, I knew the road wouldn't always be easy. But this recent challenge was truly unexpected and frustrating -- that Friday afternoon, I nearly burst into tears at work! By trying to push back against injustice through an innovative model, there are systemic barriers that have been difficult to overcome -- including this latest threat to fund this work.

In a recent legal consultation, a man told me that he was looking for over a year to find an immigration attorney who was affordable and was grateful to have found my Virtual Law Office. He lives overseas while his wife and baby live in the United States, and money has been his main barrier to receive legal help. To be an affordable option for him is something that your support has enabled.

And the 100% pro bono work on the ground continues: I am running a weekly Friday morning immigration legal clinic at St. Luke's here in the South Bronx (on E 138th St). Over this past weekend, a woman in the community came to the house I'm living at (right down the street) to talk about her immigration claim -- and I will be following up with her at this week's clinic.

There have been unexpected forks in the road, but with your friendship and support -- I am reminded that I am not alone. It is truly because of you that those above and many others have been able to receive legal counsel. Thank you for standing in the trenches with me and for weathering some of these storms.

Together, I know we will continue to serve as best as we can and am grateful for this space to be able to share some of the challenges of this work with you. Thanks so much for being a reader of my weekly blog and supporter of this project -- I truly hope to cross paths with you in person again soon! 

Much love from the Bronx,

Melanie