Ilona Bessenyey is a former staff attorney at ALSC and a current pro bono volunteer with our Veterans Clinics, Wills Clinics, the Veterans Administration’s Stand Down events, and she takes pro bono cases. Ilona also travels to remote Alaska to do pro bono wills for Alaska Native organization shareholders. As a pro bono volunteer, Ilona is reliable, personable, and very knowledgeable. ALSC and those we serve are extremely fortunate and grateful to have her as a volunteer!
Why did you choose to volunteer with ALSC?
I volunteer with ALSC because I feel strongly about helping those who have no access to civil legal services and who often are those most in need. Also, ALSC makes it so easy to volunteer for them! They provide so many opportunities to volunteer, it is always possible to find just the right volunteer option at the right time.
What are some of your experiences at ALSC that have made a positive difference in the lives of others and/or the community?
One of my favorite cases from when I worked at ALSC was when we were able to provide a gentleman with dentures. Medicaid had denied his request for dentures because they were not a covered service. We were able to successfully argue that his need for the dentures stemmed from a medical condition. When he called to tell me he had been able to eat a steak for the first time in about 5 years, I knew we made a positive difference. In volunteering for events like StandDown for ALSC, the palpable sense of relief the veterans have after meeting with a volunteer and getting some advice or guidance, is an obvious reminder that ALSC has made a positive difference in their lives and in the whole community.
How do you think your experiences with ALSC will benefit you in the future?
My work and volunteer time with ALSC makes me a better attorney; a kinder and more sympathetic one. The clients who come to ALSC often need no more than a supportive listener and some guidance. I am a better person for being reminded of this.
What do you do when you are not volunteering with ALSC?
Apart from being an Elder Law attorney and volunteering my time with ALSC, I have just joined the Board of Hospice of Anchorage, tying in my professional interests and personal ones. I love to take advantage of doing things outside, whether running, skiing or biking.