Volunteer Spotlight: Meet Cris
My name is Cris and I’ve been working as a Spanish speaking volunteer with EJC’s legal clinic over the last seven years. As an advocate for workers’ rights, I began volunteering with EJC in Fall 2007 as a way to directly help low-income workers – many of whom are immigrants – during my spare time.
Although I’ve taken breaks from volunteering to live in Spain in 2008 and 2009 and get my graduate degree between 2012 and 2014, I’ve always returned to my EJC home after these breaks to continue serving low-income workers and help out a wonderful organization that has made important contributions to workers’ rights in the DC metropolitan area.
The following list contains the top five reasons that I’ve remained committed to EJC’s clinics after all these years:
5) The legal clinics are a great opportunity for networking and developing professional skills – especially for law students.
While volunteering with EJC’s legal clinics can offer personal and intellectual fulfillment, it’s also a great way to network with a group of volunteers, attorneys, and EJC staff who are always willing to give career advice and provide helpful connections in the world of social justice work. It’s also a wonderful way to develop your professional analytical and advocacy skills, especially if you’re looking to pursue a career in social justice-oriented work. While these points are relevant to all individuals, paralegals thinking about law school, current law students, and attorneys seeking new opportunities in their career can gain great exposure to the world of employment law in a supportive environment.
4) The legal clinics allow you to engage in intellectually stimulating work that makes a difference.
As someone who has studied issues related to workers’ rights, the opportunity to volunteer at clinic is deeply rewarding on an intellectual level as well. Every time I walk into clinic, there’s always the chance that I might come across a legal issue facing a client that will require the volunteer attorneys and me to analyze and develop an effective strategy to address this issue. As someone who thrives in environments where people turn a discussion over an idea into a meaningful action, I absolutely love this component of my work with EJC and always look forward to the next legal and policy challenges facing our clients.
3) The legal clinics give you the chance to pursue social justice work – even if your job or career may not focus on this field.
In an ideal world, everyone who has a passion for social justice issues would have the opportunity to pursue a career path committed to serving others. While we do not live an ideal world with these opportunities, EJC’s legal clinic gives everyone who has a passion for social justice work the opportunity to fulfill these aspirations twice a week.
As someone who care about workers’ rights issues but works in the private sector, I really value the way that EJC’s clinics allow me to fulfill my need to serve others and work with a great organization that makes a difference in the lives of low-income workers. And for you folks who work for social justice organizations, EJC gives you another avenue for making a difference in our nation’s capital.
2) The legal clinics are a great way to work with a wonderful (and fun) group of people
As great and intellectually stimulating as the work of an EJC volunteer is, it can be hard difficult on numerous levels. Thankfully, all EJC volunteers have the chance to work with an amazing and fun group of intake and attorney volunteers as well as the staff at EJC who continue to inspire me with their intelligence, good humor, and commitment to social justice.
While volunteers and staff come and go over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to maintain friendships with people that I’ve met through the community that forms around the clinics. It’s definitely one of the things that keeps me returning to clinic over the last seven years.
1) The legal clinics are a great way to make a difference in someone’s life.
Like many people in DC, I spend a lot of my time focused on work, catching up with friends, and pursuing my hobbies. While these things give me varying levels of satisfaction, few things in my life make me feel like I’m making a difference as when one of our clients tells me “thank you” for everything I’ve done for them that night.
While you’re not always going to help a person resolve their work issues, you can walk away feeling that you’ve done your best to make sure that individual feels that people will care about their situations – no matter how difficult they may be. As much work as it is, I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to spend three hours of my week.