Introducing the Justice Heroes

Categories: Fundraising, News

At Bay Area Legal Aid, Justice Heroes are all around us. They’re our clients, like Noor, who stand up for their rights and protect their health, their homes, and their families. They’re our attorneys, like Lisa, who are on the front lines helping people in crisis regain self-sufficiency. And they’re people just like you who make an ongoing, monthly investment in legal aid advocacy that transforms lives and builds a more just Bay Area for all.

Meet Noor

Not all heroes wear capes.

When Noor was introduced to BayLegal at age 18, he was caught at the intersection of the refugee and foster care systems, and was suddenly without health care coverage. He’d immigrated to the U.S. two years earlier, after his family was displaced by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and then the Arab Spring.

"Being a refugee is a surprise. You don't choose it. It's just a must." Noor Kathem, former client

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In that time, Noor endured a number of physical ailments, including rotting teeth, a broken wrist, and chronic back pain. Despite the law’s guarantee of Medi-Cal coverage for foster youth through age 26, Noor had constant problems keeping his coverage. He was told he would need to pay out of pocket for his pending dental care or risk losing his teeth. That’s when Noor was connected with BayLegal attorneys. Together, they not only restored his medical coverage, but they also recognized a broader, systemic issue affecting refugee foster youth throughout California.

Today, a quick Google search of Noor reveals a top-ranked California community college wrestler with a kind smile. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that Noor’s path from Iraq to the California state wrestling championships was one riddled with obstacles, and that BayLegal’s staff, partners, and you—our supporters—played a vital role in helping him overcome them.

Meet Lisa

Justice heroes go to court.

“When we first met Noor, my colleagues and I had no idea about the general administrative confusion at Medi-Cal about where refugee foster youth ‘fit in’ to the system, nor the scope of the issue. All we knew was that these administrative gaps could have devastating consequences for Noor and other refugee foster youth with urgent health care needs.”

"I believe foster youth are the children of us all, and taking care of their health is the right thing to do." - Lisa Newstrom, Managing Attorney

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“I believe foster youth are the children of us all, and taking care of their health is the right thing for any parent to do. We knew BayLegal had to do something when we learned that Noor’s case was just the tip of the iceberg, and that refugee foster kids throughout the state were systematically being denied health care coverage or given incorrect and inadequate coverage.”

Recognizing the potential for a strong impact case, BayLegal attorneys Michael Keys and Marina Pantchenko partnered with Hanson Bridgett LLP and the National Health Law Program to file Kathem v. Lightbourne et al. After months and months of uncertainty, we were pleased to reach a successful settlement ensuring the state would comply with its legal responsibility to provide functioning Medi-Cal health insurance to refugee foster youth like Noor.

Join Us!

Become a Justice Hero.

Becoming a BayLegal Justice Hero means making an investments in people–investments that allow us to take on big issues and attain justice for clients like Noor and thousands of other Californians with similar challenges. Your consistent support brings justice within reach for thousands of vulnerable, yet incredibly resilient, community members when and where they need it most.

Invest in Justice Today!

When people like Noor are in points of crisis, they count on BayLegal to be there for them. We at BayLegal count on you—our Justice Heroes—to ensure we are a powerful, dynamic resource for our clients when and where they need us.

Invest in Justice
Help a family maintain health care coverage and access life-saving services.
Invest in Justice
Help a former foster care youth thrive through stable housing and continuing education.


Invest In Justice
Help an immigrant survivor of abuse rebuild their life through legal permanent residence and work authorization.