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The Northwest Justice Project (NJP), Washington State’s publicly funded legal aid program, has presented a  10 years of service award to Celia Guardado, Director of Client Services for YWCA Walla Walla. The project commended her for bringing the voice of clients to the board and for her steadfast dedication to the cause of equal justice.

When Celia  began working with YWCA clients as an Advocate in 2004, she discovered that it was difficult for them to get answers even to simple legal questions. And sometimes she’d see them spending rent money to secure the legal advice they needed.

A lawyer in Yakima with the NJP who helped advise some of Celia’s clients nominated her for the NJP board, and she was elected as a client representative. At the time, the NJP didn’t have a Walla Walla office, so clients had to get help from Yakima, the Tri-Cities, or Spokane. Within a year, though, the need in Walla Walla warranted opening a satellite office here with two attorneys and a paralegal.

“This service is very important to our clients at the YWCA,” said Celia. “It gets attention to have an attorney’s letter. And it helps clients get services they are entitled to so they can solve work-related issues and housing challenges and stay safe from domestic violence.”

Celia’s experiences with NJP included helping hire a new director after their past director retired.