Connecticut Legal Services

Connecticut Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) provides free civil legal services to low-income people in 122 Connecticut communities (except areas of Hartford and New Haven counties), and is dedicated to its mission of improving the lives of low-income people by providing access to justice.  CLS’ primary goal is to represent, advise, and educate low-income individuals and families in matters relating principally to civil law, thereby helping them secure the protection, privileges, benefits, rights and opportunities that this law provides. 

The grant CLS received from the Nonprofit Grant Program increased our ability to help clients by improving access to our Waterbury offices.   Before this grant, the handicap accessible ramp leading to our Waterbury CLS office building had been a source of concern and frustration.  When we purchased the building in the early 1990, a wooden ramp was built to allow for handicap accessibility.  Over the years, the ramp’s design flaws became clear.  The original ramp required more support in order to withstand the weight of wheelchairs.  The wood had also warped creating bumps that were very difficult for people in wheelchairs and walkers to navigate.  More importantly, however, was that the ramp was not covered. Every winter, the ice and snow created a hazard on the ramp.  Even when we were able to adequately clear the snow and ice from the ramp, we weren’t able to clear the icicles from the roof line that overhung the ramp and threatened anyone using the ramp.  Staff frequently met clients outside, sometimes lifting wheelchairs, to assist their entry instead of having them risk the ramp. 

The funding we received went to rebuilding our ramp and creating an adequate covering.  The materials used are durable and guaranteed to last a lifetime without warping or creating any of the problems we were experiencing.  The new ramp is reinforced and is strong enough to hold the heaviest wheelchairs, and the boards are close enough together to create a smooth surface for easy navigation up the ramp.  Because of the assistance we received, disabled clients had no issues with office accessibility during this last winter— the ramp was dry, offered overhead protection, and allowed easy unimpeded access to our office.