The young woman became a U.S. citizen 15 years ago.

But her husband, the father of her two children, is undocumented.

During a visit to the Mexican consulate in Philadelphia, the Delaware couple share their story with Jeffrey S. DeCristofaro and Evelyn Sabando, who are making a presentation about the services of the Camden Center for Law and Social Justice.

At the center's downtown Camden office, meanwhile, Lisa M. Incollingo handles cases like those of a Gloucester Township senior citizen and a Camden mother of five, both of whom recently got protection from an abusive family member.

"The center helped me through," says Brande Houston, 37, the mother of five, whose request for a permanent restraining order against an ex-boyfriend was granted by a judge.

Complicated cases and hot-button issues are all in a day's work for the faith-based nonprofit organization that lawyer and Catholic priest the Rev. David Brooks founded in 1993. The Diocese of Camden supports the center but does not manage its operations. There are two offices in Camden and a third in Atlantic City.

"The center is a safe harbor for people confronting often-desperate legal circumstances," founding board chairman and Haddonfield lawyer John C. Connell says, adding, "Our mission is to actively [assist] the least of our brothers and sisters."

Last year, the center served a total of 2,500 individuals, and reached an additional 1,000 with community-education programs such as the consulate presentation.

Most of its work involves people with immigration or domestic-violence issues.

"For clients who are disabled, unemployed, low-income, no income, we level the playing field," says Incollingo, whose title is family unit coordinator.

The center takes about 80 domestic-violence cases to trial in a typical year.

"We're the number-one pro bono provider of domestic-violence victim services in Camden County, which tends to have the highest number of cases annually in the state," she notes.

Some domestic violence or immigration clients are referred, but others simply walk in: 15 to 25 people typically visit the center's "open office" hours on Thursdays in Atlantic City, DeCristofaro says.

And with immigration a central issue in the presidential race, "people who have had their green card for at least five years and are eligible for citizenship want help to apply for citizenship. Some have told me specifically they are doing so in order to vote," he adds.

Says Sabando, who has worked on immigration-related issues for 25 years, "There's a lot more concern out there than in the past."

Perhaps half of the people who walk into the Atlantic City office - the only one with open hours - without a referral are undocumented.

"We are a safe environment for people to get legal advice, where they can be treated with dignity and respect," DeCristofaro says. "Sometimes we can find programs that will help undocumented people. But a lot of times, we have to say no."

The Delaware couple, he added, "talked to me about what options may be available for them. They took a card. They may call back."

The staff members I met at the center's emphatically unglamorous offices on North Broadway all strike me as people on a mission. A love of their work is evident, particularly when they describe working with their clients.

Who return the affection.

"Lisa was the best thing that happened to us," says the Gloucester Township resident, 81, who asked that I not use her name.

"She gave me strength to deal with things."

Not only are victims who are represented by an attorney more likely to prevail in court, "they are more likely to finally break free of the cycle of violence and learn about their rights," Incollingo says.

"I was in a long-term emotionally/verbally abusive relationship," Incollingo adds. "That's a major reason I am so passionate about the work we do."

Says DeCristofaro: "I was brought up that if you can help someone, help them.

"Help people who don't have a voice."

856-779-3845 @inqkriordan