Local Artist Maya Wilson Showcases PLA's Clients

The three portraits on display on black easels at the Jubilee for Justice

Philadelphia-based artist Maya Wilson created three pieces of original artwork for PLA in celebration of our 25th Anniversary. The pieces depict four of our cherished clients and celebrates the real people that our mission seeks to help. 

Maya wilson with the artwork

Each of the four clients has an incredible story.

Olivia, a Liberian immigrant who was a registered nurse in her home country, is a patient at one of the locations of PLA’s Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP). Olivia incurred significant student loan debt after she moved to the United States and sought to obtain new nursing credentials through a for-profit college. In 2016, Olivia broke her foot and was unable to continue working as a home health aide. This and succeeding injuries, including a fracture to her spine, left Olivia unable to work and pay back her student loans. With assistance from the MLCP and collaboration with PLA’s Unemployment Compensation Unit, Olivia was able to obtain Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), obtain critical health insurance, learn about other public benefits she was eligible for, and is in the process of addressing her student loans.

Victor is a patient at Girard Medical Center, one of the locations of PLA’s Medical-Legal Community Partnership (MLCP). After being introduced to the MLCP, Victor was able to obtain medical insurance after discovering that he was eligible for Medical Assistance for Workers with Disabilities (MAWD). Since then, the MLCP has helped Victor obtain Food Stamps, reach a positive custody agreement, and renew his MAWD benefits year after year. Ensuring these benefits has been critical to ensuring that Victor, a resilient person in recovery from substance abuse disorder, can continue participating in GMC’s Medication Assisted Treatment program. We’re now working to help Victor establish paternity of his child and create a stronger bond with his son. Victor is not only a champion for people in recovery, but is also a champion for the role of legal services in improving individual and community health.

For ten years, PLA has helped Aicha, a strong survivor of domestic violence, obtain protection orders and resolve complicated divorce and custody issues. Many of PLA’s clients are in court for years because perpetrators of abuse use the system to further victimize survivors. PLA understands these complex abuse patterns and advocates for survivors, such as Aicha, at court. To support Aicha, PLA’s Family law Unit collaborated with our partner HIAS-PA to get Aicha, a native Arabic speaker from Morocco, assistance to obtain a U-VISA and legal status in the United States. With assistance from PLA, Aicha was able to be connected with a partner organization that helped her navigate the complex immigration system, and through these essential services, she was able to achieve greater stability for her family.

Blew: “PLA helped me with custody and child support representation for two of my children and their fathers. Their support was extremely humanizing and supportive, especially in a daunting arena as the court system entangled with the intimate connection with my children. PLA has helped me gain the confidence and experience I need to stand up for the rights I have myself and my family. It has showed me what it can look like to offer skills and expertise to folks in a way that is signifying, understanding that finances and knowledge of legalities does not determine someone’s worth to a society.”

Inspired by these stories, the artwork debuted at our Jubilee for Justice 25th Anniversary Celebration. The three gorgeous pieces will now reside in PLA's offices permanently. We are grateful to our clients for guiding our work towards centering community and paving a path towards justice. Thank you to Maya Wilson for her vision, creativity, and talent.