Lawyers Journal

Rebuilding the lives of bombing survivors

 

Dept. Public Safety creates volunteer group to help


The Massachusetts Department of Public Safety has created the Boston Survivors Accessibility Alliance to help survivors of the April 15, 2013, marathon bombing rebuild their lives, both figuratively and literally. The brainchild of Commissioner of Public Safety Thomas Gatzunis, the BSAA is comprised of individuals from the construction, design and building industries, all of whom have volunteered their expertise and materials to help victims transition to their new lives.

"For anyone, a kitchen remodel is a daunting task. But, remodeling an entire home, especially after a serious life-altering injury, can be an insurmountable one," said Gatzunis. "These victims may not be able to access their kitchens, their bathrooms or their closets. We recognized a need and knew we were in a unique situation to help them."

The BSAA has organized volunteers from more than 50 groups, including plumbers, electricians, contractors, architects, designers and suppliers, to help make victims' homes accessible. The BSAA has also received commitments from building inspectors across Massachusetts and beyond to expedite permits and waive fees. The Massachusetts Bar Association will offer victims pro bono legal help in drafting and reviewing work contracts.

So far, two victims have applied, and there are several other applications from victims in the pipeline. The military-assistance group Homes for our Troops is providing mentors for the victims. These mentors have experience working with disabled veterans adjusting back to life after loss of limbs or other severe injuries. The BSAA is reaching out to victims, either directly or through Spaulding Rehabilitation Center, where many victims are recovering.

"It's amazing to see the strength of this community as it comes together to help those in need," Gatzunis said.

Lawyers wishing to volunteer their legal services may contact the MBA at (617) 338-0695 or e-mail [e-mail communityservices]. Survivors interested in applying, should go to the state's Executive Office of Public Safety website at ?www.mass.gov/eopss or call (617) 727-3200.

©2014 Massachusetts Bar Association