“Thank You For Changing My Life”

Dear Harriett Buhai Center for Family Law:

My name is Dolores. I am a student at El Camino College. My major is Single Subject Teaching credential. I was a CalWORKs recipient due to the loss of employment. The Harriett Buhai Center goes to the CalWORKs/CARE Program office at El Camino College. I heard that the Center helps low income students with different family law legal matters including divorce. I did not hesitate on taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity, as I was determined to file for divorce.

The first person I met was Cheryl Segal. I was very nervous but her angelical smile and sweet voice calmed me down and I was able to continue with the appointment. I told Cheryl that the only thing I wanted was my freedom back. She looked at me and said, “Well, have you ever considered asking for part of your husband’s retirement money…? It doesn’t hurt to ask, let’s find out!” Cheryl made me feel confident about it, so we proceeded to open a case.

Not long after filing for divorce, my CalWORKs program ended because my daughter turned 18 years old. However, I was eligible to participate in a program called TSE-Transitioned Subsidize Employment through the GAIN program, which allowed me to work full-time to acquire job skills so that I could be on my own when the program expired. This was to last 12 consecutive months, however, due to the budget cuts the program, actually my participation in the program was cut off at the 6th month, leaving me up in the air, not being able to collect unemployment because it was a federal funded program. As a result I became homeless. As soon as Cheryl found out about this she took immediate action and prepared the necessary documents to request spousal support. In the meantime she supplied me with bus tokens because my car had broken down. She also helped me with her supporting words, which kept encouraging me to be strong and continue with my studies. The first time we went to court attorney Maryam was with me, it was my very first time in a court room and I felt like passing out, not to mention the presence of my husband caused me anxiety. Maryam held my hand and smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry I am here for you.” Maryam’s words and support made it possible for me to go through the process that day and the entire divorce process.

During the time that we were waiting for the Judge’s decision on my spousal support, I submitted an application for the GR program which was rejected even though I was homeless. I communicated this to Cheryl and she immediately referred me to Karina Estrella. Ms. Estrella directed me to the right person to talk to at the GR office and she also contacted someone on my behalf. In the 48 hours after this occurred my application was approved and I was able to receive food stamps and cash aid.

Cheryl Segal also got me a very professional pro bono lawyer, Tobie Waxman. She represented me so well in court that I was able to obtain spousal support effective the next day. Tobie Waxman also represented me in my final divorce trial. During the divorce process, there were a number of other wonderful people who assisted me with professionalism and enthusiasm. I do not remember all of their names but I thank you all for being there for me: Nina, Erin, Mary, Nancy, Elvira, Lindsey Ziegler all of you,

Thank you so much!!


P.S. I can’t wait to get on my feet and be able to contribute to the Center with a financial donation. But, in the meantime I would like to contribute my time if allowed.




Thanks to the effort of all these wonderful people I am now living a normal decent life and continuing my education to achieve my goal of becoming a teacher.

“I have a roof over

my head and food

on my table”

Thank you!