April is National Volunteer Month, and we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to feature some of our stellar volunteers that help make our neighborhoods healthier and safer. Throughout the month we’ll feature different volunteers on our blog, so make sure to check back in right here. And for our first week: meet Sidonie!
Sidonie has volunteered at Legal Hand for the past six months. She helps any neighbor that comes by—whether by making faxes, filling out applications, writing a resume, whatever they need!—all with a beaming smile.
(This interview has been edited for brevity.)
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I know six languages: English, French, German, and 3 African languages—Lele, Moore, and Dioula.
How many hours a week do you work at Legal Hand?
I work two days a week, six hours a day; so 12 hours a week. I want even more than that! I like to work here and help people. I see the result of what I’m doing and helping people, and it makes me want to help more.
Why did you decide to become a volunteer?
First, like I said I like to help people. Second, I was available. Third, I already worked as a volunteer before, and it was a great experience for me. Fourth, it empowers me, as well as empowers other people… That is the reason I decided to volunteer instead of staying home, laying down and doing nothing. [laughs]
What have you learned from your work as a volunteer?
I’ve learned a lot. A lot a lot… There is no limit of needs that people bring here. This make me learn, for example, about housing discrimination. I had a training about it. Before, I didn’t know how to deal when you want to apply for housing… You don’t have to tell the housing company first or right away that you have a voucher, because many of them, if they hear the word “voucher,” they will decline your application. But with this training I learned that you have to negotiate first and at the end you mention your voucher, when they have already accepted you. And also I’ve learned the housing court process. I studied law, but I did it in my country, so there’s differences a little bit from here. I think it’s a good experience for me to volunteer at Legal Hand, because with what I learn I can look for a job and I have experience to give to my job.
What would you tell someone who’s thinking of becoming a Legal Hand volunteer?
Don’t think, just go. You will enjoy it. It’s a place where everything is set up for you to be in a good environment to work, and you have the support of other people. Legal Hand is a community organization and all are welcome.