People of Origin Rightfully Loved and Wanted (P.O.O.R.L.A.W.) looks to encourage community, leadership, ownership, friendship, invested interest in the future of our children and support Hazelwood ‘s growth into a thriving, safe and enjoyable, place to live and raise families.
In 2004, POORLAW, People of Origin Rightfully Loved and Wanted, was formed growing out of the wrongful conviction of Terrell Johnson. At that time, Terrell had served 9 years for a crime he did not commit, and has since been found innocent. This caused a group of families to organize, in order to bring awareness to the growing problem of discrimination and social injustice.
After several years and many hours of planning, hosting community meetings and workshops, these families, joined by many others, decided to take their cause to an even higher level of community involvement. At that point, they took a stand that would later help to empower the people in community. In 2008, over 250 people attended a community meeting that resulted in the formation of POORLAW.
As a result of a newly elected Board of Directors, the organization began to move away from efforts to mobilize around one injustice, and moved towards efforts to create a new mission, fostering relationships between community members, and focusing on economic, housing and community development. This shift also led to an increased focus on relationships among the youth and their social and economical struggles. POORLAW decided to develop programs and activities aimed at addressing the economic disadvantages suffered by low income and disfranchised youth living in the Greater Hazelwood community.
In partnership with the Hazelwood YMCA and Council Of 3 Rivers American Indian Center two successful job training and placement programs were designed and implemented in the summers of 2009-2010.
In 2010, POORLAW began collaborating with Mifflin Public Schools on anti-bullying and violence prevention programs. We are currently working on a program called Children with Wings that focus on neighborhood violence.
POORLAW has also spent a considerable amount of time organizing voter registration drives in the community
Our largest accomplishment to date has been leading the Justice for Terrell campaign. Throughout the years this has been our main focus and the spark that started this organization. All of the speaking events, press conferences, rally’s, legal meetings and efforts to raise awareness finally paid off. Last September, our co-founder, Terrell Johnson, walked out of the prison doors after serving over 17 years for a crime he did not commit. HOORAY!
POORLAW’s new program, The Sister Circle was officially launched this October 2012. The program focuses on young women and meets twice monthly to talk about issues that affect them, their communities and relationships. The Sister Circle brings together multi generations of women to share their experiences, concerns, and motivations. This years, the young women, attended a balloon release for their sister Raymond, who was killed a couple years ago.
For four years, POORLAW has been hosting “Unity in the Community” events, manifesting as Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Celebrations where hundreds of Hazelwood Community members come together, break bread and participate in activities for the children.
POORLAW also became an official non-profit with 501c3 status in 2012.
Community- based organizations that we collaborate with and have built alliances together include: The Hazelwood Initiative (HI), Centre Of Life (COL), Human Rights Coalition (HRC}, Hazelwood YMCA, Mifflin PSSC, Glen Hazel Tenant Council, Council Of 3 Rivers American Indian Center, and Bully Police USA. POORLAW is a participant in the Duquesne Hazelwood Partnership as well as a partner in the Heinz-Hazelwood Partnership.