As Mary Ellen Beaver puts it, “One of the greatest sins in this country is to he poor.” For more than 30 years, this white-haired grandmother of five has devoted herself to countering this notion as an advocate for the thousands of migrants who work for little pay and under substandard conditions on farmlands of the eastern and southern United States. She has done this as a paralegal for a variety of legal service agencies, working long and unconventional hours in far-flung, isolated places, often under dangerous conditions, to collect information that can be used both in and out of court to leverage better working and living conditions for migrants. One of her former bosses, lawyer Greg Schell of Florida Legal Services, has called her “the best farm worker outreach paralegal in the country,“ and she has not only been cited for her work by several legal organizations but also has received a medal of honor from Pope John Paul II.
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