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Casa Cornelia to Recognize Outstanding Volunteers

October 11, 2018

By Mario A. Cortez

As part of its celebration for providing free aid to immigrants facing abuse and human rights violations for 25 years, legal nonprofit Casa Cornelia will honor people who have given their support to this group.

In this ceremony, to be held on Oct. 20 at the University of San Diego’s Shiley Theatre, a recognition will be presented to the numerous volunteers who have been part of this organization. Among the many to be recognized there are students, interpreters, lawyers and many more.

Carmen Chavez, executive director of Casa Cornelia, spoke with La Prensa San Diego about the organization she leads.

“Casa Cornelia began very humbly with two nuns, one of which was a lawyer, and they wanted to help the most vulnerable people and impart justice with compassion,” she said. “Since then, we have concentrated on helping the immigrant community with lower resources who do not have the opportunity to get a private lawyer.”

The cases which Casa Cornelia directs its efforts toward are those involving people who qualify for asylum and humanitarian visas, but cannot access a lawyer due to financial obstacles. In similar fashion, undocumented victims of domestic violence and people eligible for an U Visa or a T Visa are also people Casa Cornelia seeks to help.

“They are very strong cases which require tact and much compassion while we represent these people,” Chavez highlighted.

Among the outstanding individuals engaged in this work, and who will be especially recognized during the ceremony, are two people who have immeasurably given of their time to the causes championed by Casa Cornelia.

Attorney Charles Dick, general counsel to the San Diego County Bar Association and a legal practitioner with over five decades of experience, will receive the Outstanding Attorney Award for his pro bono contributions to Casa Cornelia.

Dilkhwaz Ahmed will be honored for her humanitarian work with women throughout the border region and in her native Iraq.

“She has put her life on the line to help others,” Chavez said. “She had asylum and is now a U.S. Citizen and has returned to Iraq to provide service and support to those who have suffered violations to their human rights and persecution.”

The ceremony will also award over a dozen people who have also given their time and talents to Casa Cornelia.

Although the awards are an important feature of the nonprofit’s silver anniversary celebration, the event will serve as a fundraiser to keep to help keep their efforts going and continuing to carry out their mission.

Each year, Chavez pointed out, Casa Cornelia handles a greater number of cases, which requires more resources. In 2011, only 1,053 cases were served, while in 2017 aid was provided to 2,411 people which included asylum seekers, DACA recipients and victims of crimes.

“Absolutely today, more than ever, Casa Cornelia’s mission is critically important to help reach people who have rights under the laws of this country and have the right to request this type of human right.”

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