Legal Aid DC to Present Partnership Award to Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez
At the 2024 Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, Legal Aid DC will honor Ms. Alvarez Velasquez, a former client who advocated for the decriminalization of street vending in the District.
Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez


Legal Aid DC is thrilled to share that we will be presenting former client Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez with the Partnership Award at the 34th Annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner, to be held in Washington on April 9. 

The Partnership Award recognizes extraordinary individuals or organizations who have helped advance Legal Aid DC’s mission of making justice real in the District. Past recipients have included Monica Jackson, President of the Terrace Manor Tenants Association, and the AFL-CIO's Claimant Advocacy Program. 

Ms. Alvarez Velasquez immigrated to the United States from Guatemala about 15 years ago, leaving her two small children, Douglas and Kenia, behind to try to provide a better life for them. She started a successful tamale stand in Mt. Pleasant, got remarried, and continued to send money back to Guatemala. Eventually, Douglas and Kenia were able to join her in D.C., but Ms. Alvarez Velasquez struggled to navigate the labyrinthine immigration law system on her own. She sought assistance from Legal Aid DC’s Immigrants’ Rights Legal Services Project, and her attorney, Julia Ward, helped her clarify her family’s immigration status.  

“I’m so happy Magnolia is being honored,” Ward said. “The whole family is very special and are the embodiment of what it means to be a good neighbor in D.C.” 

Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez with her children and Legal Aid DC attorney Julia Ward
From left: Magnolia Alvarez Velasquez with her children Kenia and Douglas and Legal Aid DC Senior Staff Attorney Julia Ward.

Beyond fighting for her family, Ms. Alvarez Velasquez stepped up for her community last year when the Street Vendor Advancement Act went before the Council. The bill proposed eliminating criminal penalties for vending without a license, allowing the mayor to waive unpaid fines, and establishing sidewalk vending zones. Decriminalizing street vending was a top priority for advocates in D.C. and Ms. Alvarez Velasquez, along with her husband German Trinidad (who operates the tamale stand with her), immediately volunteered to testify in front of the Council about their experiences and argue for their right to earn a living without harassment and prejudice. As a result of this advocacy, the Council passed the Street Vendor Advancement Act in April 2023. 

Ms. Alvarez Velasquez will be honored at the 34th Annual Servant of Justice Awards Dinner on April 9 in Washington. As previously announced, Legal Aid DC will also present the Servant of Justice Award to civil rights leaders Debo P. Adegbile and Judge David S. Tatel. 

Tickets are available online and sponsorships for the Dinner start at $10,000 for a table of 10. Please contact Rob Pergament, Director of Development, at or (202) 661-5964 for more information about supporting the Dinner. 

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