Mildred Coleman

Mildred Coleman“They called to the point where I just didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to answer my telephone. I didn’t want to get out of bed at that point,” Mildred Coleman recalls.

Mildred, a 65-year-old woman of the Columbus area was in debt. She owed a great deal of money for taxes due to her divorce. On top of that, she had several unpaid bills and bill collectors calling day and night. “I had been through so much and I had absolutely no idea where to turn.”

Luckily, an acquaintance of Mildred had mentioned the Legal Aid Society of Columbus (LASC). “The fact that I could even walk through the door was a shock to me. And then for someone to sit down and start working with me was unbelievable.”

A pro bono attorney secured by LASC began assisting Mildred with a tax case when the issue of debt collectors arose. While her attorney solved her tax problem, Mildred required additional assistance for her debts.

To assist with the collector’s calls, Mildred was linked with attorney Melissa Linville and the Bankruptcy Pro Bono Program. After she was determined eligible for the Bankruptcy Bypass Program, Mildred supplied paperwork to assist law students involved in the program. The Bankruptcy Bypass Program assists long-term “uncollectable” clients who seek an end to debt collector and creditor harassment. Rather than filing for bankruptcy, the students of the Bypass Program compiled Mildred’s full creditor list at one of the bi-monthly clinics, and thereafter LASC distributed letters to Mildred’s bill collectors outlining her uncollectable status and asking them to stop contacting her. This program serves as an alternative to filing for bankruptcy because many of those served have situations that are unlikely to change. Like many others, within a few weeks, the majority of the calls to Mildred had ceased.

“I had lost so much sleep and I contemplated suicide over the whole thing,” Mildred says. Fortunately, LASC was persistent in her case, especially towards the debt collector calls Mildred still received from time to time.

As for the work of LASC, “it was just above and beyond,” Mildred comments. “I could not be more grateful.”

Now, like many others the Bypass Program has helped, Mildred no longer puts up with the endless calls of debt collectors. The program has given Mildred peace of mind and peace and quiet from the phone calls.

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