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Consumer Reports Honors Kentucky-Based Nonprofit

PHOTO: Consumer Reports has honored the Kentucky Equal Justice Center with its Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award. Photo Courtesy of Rich Seckel.
PHOTO: Consumer Reports has honored the Kentucky Equal Justice Center with its Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award. Photo Courtesy of Rich Seckel.
February 18, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. - You may turn to Consumer Reports to do research into which washing machine or car to buy, but the product-testing organization's scope extends far beyond what you might imagine.

A Lexington-based nonprofit has been given Consumer Reports' "Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award." The Kentucky Equal Justice Center was recognized for its work as a "watchdog and advocate" for low-income residents in the state. The Center's director is Rich Seckel, who welcomed the distinction.

"To have a group that has a reputation for discerning judgment notice what you're doing and value it, was just great," he said.

The national award is given annually to a small nonprofit organization that has affected the lives of consumers through policy advocacy or direct actions in the marketplace.

Consumer Reports' director of external affairs, Rob Schneider, said that the Kentucky Equal Justice Center has been a "lead group" in improving health-care coverage in the state.

"They're a very powerful voice in Kentucky for the state's most vulnerable residents."

Schneider says it wasn't just the Center's push for expansion of Medicaid and implementation of health-care reform that caught Consumer Reports' attention. For example, he pointed out, a decade ago the Kentucky Equal Justice Center helped restore Medicaid long-term care to nearly 3500 Kentuckians.

The Center also runs a free tax preparation site and an immigration law clinic.

Seckel remarked that it's a privilege to do work on something that "changes lives and empowers people."

"You know, an immigration law when you help someone gain work authorization or become a citizen, you're helping with opportunity," he said.

Founded in 1976, the non-profit Center has always worked on a shoe-string budget, according to Seckel. The award comes with a $25,000 cash prize, which Seckel said will help the Kentucky Equal Justice Center "communicate a little more" about consumer issues.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY