NYLAG was recently chosen as the subject of a film being produced by The Visionaries for broadcast on public television. Hosted by actor Sam Waterston, this documentary film series highlights the important yet under recognized work of non-profit organizations working to make a positive difference in their communities. In its 16 seasons, The Visionaries has profiled 165 organizations and aired on over 140 public television stations, accessible to 70 million households annually. “As the first legal service provider to be profiled, this documentary provides NYLAG with a unique opportunity. Not only will it expand our reach to a national audience, but it will also highlight to the general public the importance of free civil legal services for low-income individuals,” explained Merritt Birnbaum, NYLAG’s Director of Development.

Five NYLAG clients, 20 NYLAG staff members, a New York State Judge, and a physician from one of NYLAG’s partner hospitals were interviewed for the 30-minute documentary, which is currently in production and is scheduled to air in 2011-12. The Visionaries also produced a shortened seven-minute version of the film, which was screened for the first time at the recent NYLAG Gala. This video is available for viewing here.

The shorter video focuses on the stories of two NYLAG clients. Yuliya is an immigrant from Uzbekistan who was severely abused by her husband and needed NYLAG’s help to ensure her safety and the safety of her young daughter. Faye is an individual with a physical disability whose request for an increase in home health care hours was unjustly denied by New York State. Faye became a plaintiff in a class action law suit filed by NYLAG on behalf of a number of similarly situated individuals.

“We can publish statistics and explain our mission to law makers, but these methods can affect only limited change. The Visionaries documentary highlights the emotional stories of real clients and their struggles to receive the justice to which they’re entitled. This film will enlighten millions of Americans to the importance of the work that we do,” Birnbaum stated.

In total, over 25 hours of footage was recorded, which will be given to NYLAG for various uses such as training videos and community outreach.