VLN’s housing volunteers have a powerful impact on the community. We are proud to recognize some of our volunteers who are doing amazing work.
Nan Etzwiler is a retired 3M attorney. Since Nan started volunteering in March 2019 with the Corporate Pro Bono Project, she has continuously taken on eviction expungement cases, always for full representation. Nan has dedicated well over 200 hours to these cases. In 2021 alone, she worked on six full representation expungement cases, volunteering nearly 100 hours.
In addition to providing crucial representation to low-income clients, Nan has gone above and beyond in her efforts to help change eviction expungement policy in the state of Minnesota. Nan has been raising awareness about a bill in the legislature that would substantially improve policies on eviction expungement and eviction notice requirements. She testified before the House Housing Finance and Policy Committee, where she shared some of her experiences of working with clients at VLN and helped one of her former clients share his story in written testimony too. She has also created detailed instructions on how to get involved. All of these documents are available here.
Nan also has been willing to share her expertise and talents to recruit additional lawyers. She spoke as part of a panel at 3M, her former workplace, to encourage other 3M lawyers to engage in eviction expungement work, has been highlighted in our newsletter, and is simply an example in herself because she is not afraid to try new things.
One of Nan’s clients described her best: “She was amazing, she was absolutely great and if I could go somewhere again, I would definitely want her again. She explained everything step by step. Very reassuring, 5 stars from me.”
Nan is loved by VLN staff, who know she will do an amazing job at whatever case we send her way. For all these reasons, and so many more, VLN is pleased to present the 2021 Housing Volunteer of the Year Award to Nan Etzwiler.
Partnerships sometimes start small and then grow when the time is right. This is exactly what happened with VLN’s housing program partnership with 3M. For many years, Adam Bramwell was the backbone of 3M’s volunteering in VLN’s Housing Program. In 2019, the partnership grew slightly as 3M started to do eviction expungement clinics with VLN. Then, in 2021, and in response to housing needs created by the pandemic, 3M stepped up their housing volunteering by making a greater commitment to eviction expungement and other work. In total, for 2021, 3M attorneys reported volunteering 117 hours on a total of 64 cases. They advised on 11 housing court clinics cases, 32 phone advice clinics and took on 21 full representation cases.
In addition to attorney hours, several 3M paralegals have also made a significant commitment to housing work. 3M paralegal Amanda Miller has been a point person, teaching other paralegals within 3M about online filing and answering questions internally as appropriate. At VLN’s eviction expungement clinics 3M attorneys and paralegals have drafted 34 expungement motions this year alone, ensuring 14 clients will have better access to quality housing in the future. Furthermore, 3M brought it’s innovation to its volunteer work by proposing to do a “rent escrow” clinic with VLN. While the clinic was small and experimental, two clients were served and one client ultimately received a $3000 payment due to repair issues in their rental unit.
One 3M volunteer has taken two clients with larger numbers of evictions on their record for eviction expungement purposes. In her first year, she took one client with 10 evictions and another client with 8 evictions. Clients with large numbers of evictions are hard to place and this volunteer’s willingness to work with her paralegal on these eviction expungements is tremendous!!
VLN clients have said this about their 3M volunteer attorneys:
- “They were great. Just honest to god they were great. That’s why I called back. They were great. I had a lot of evictions, so they had to file a lot of motions. I really appreciate them.”
- “I paid off the debt, and now that you guys helped me get an expungement, I am eligible for Section 8 again after I’ve been living in my apartment for a year.”
- “My attorney did a great job. Everything was professional and an outstanding job, just perfect. It helped.”
For all these reasons, and many, many more, VLN’s Housing Program is proud to award 3M with its Housing Organizational Partner of the Year Award.
Since retiring and joining VLN’s housing program almost immediately after that in July of 2018, Wendy has spent well over 1000 hours assisting over 450 clients with housing issues. And while she is amazing in any year she volunteers, 2021 was particularly phenomenal. In 2021, Wendy spent over 500 hours working on 158 cases.
Wendy is a favorite volunteer among VLN’s Housing staff. She regularly covers 2 phone advice shifts each month and multiple court courts shifts per week, and she’s often the first one to agree to take additional open shifts.
Again, Wendy’s clients say it best,
- “Nothing short of amazing…and that word doesn’t get the job done. Thank you so much for being there. God bless you all!”
- “Very thorough, she explained everything perfectly!”
- “Wendy Legge went above and beyond in order to reassure us and get us justice in a case where we had little to no hope due to the abusive nature of our Property management company’s attorney. Her communication was prompt, clear, and compassionate… and she wasn’t going to let the property management company take advantage of us any longer. She will forever be my hero.”
VLN’s housing program wouldn’t be what it is right now without her, and hundreds and hundreds of clients have benefitted from her services. While she won the volunteer of the year award last year, we just couldn’t not recognize her with an award this year. Therefore, we created a special award for a special person. We are pleased to award Wendy Willson Legge with an Award for Outstanding Commitment to Service.”