In honor of National Volunteer Month this April, we’re featuring some of our volunteers on our blog, and today we’d like to introduce you to Susan!
Susan started as a volunteer at Legal Hand in August 2018, but then asked for even more ways to get involved. So she started volunteering with Neighbors in Action as well! Not only can you find her at Legal Hand helping people get housing repairs, applying to jobs, and even fixing cell phones, but you’ll also catch her at our main office at 256 Kingston helping with different odd jobs, like reconciling expenses or folding t-shirts.
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
Until I broke my leg, I was a runner. My last marathon was in 2011; my last half marathon was 2016, and in 2017 I ran 10 miles. I walked six miles Saturday so hopefully by the summer I’ll be able to run again. I want to run after my grandkids!
Do you have any good stories from your time working here?
People have sang to me. I find I just don’t remember every single case. It all becomes one in my head, but I leave here and I leave the community with a feeling like I’ve really helped someone. Very often it’s stuff that maybe they could do for themselves. But they need support, and if it happened to me, I would need support… It could be small things; it doesn’t have to be huge problem solving. I’ve done some problem solving also.
What are some of the small things you’ve helped people with?
I’m always doing small things… Yesterday I helped someone with getting a formalized housing repair procedure initiated. [A Legal Hand visitor may] talk to the housing manager, they don’t do anything, they don’t call back. [The visitor may] ask for an exterminator, they don’t come. So you start with a letter, you go to the website and find the list, and you start together on the process. I drafted a letter and it got sent off… [The visitor] can come back if needed. These aren’t big stories, but people come in with messes and they don’t know where to turn or what to do.
Why should someone volunteer?
If they’re looking for creative, socially-relevant, productive work, they can volunteer. I know there are people who do not have the time; they have to earn money, but if they can spare the time… Especially for younger people—it’s great on a resume, and you get all kinds of skills: people skills, research skills, life skills in handling bureaucracies, and negotiation skills. And for people like me—retired, and have a pension—and they can volunteer, it’s the best thing in the world to do with your time. The relationship isn’t like your average paying job, where everyone’s on your neck about not being fast enough or making mistakes. It’s a very decent work situation here and a community with advocates. People are always ready to help, people are friendly, supportive—it’s a wonderful work environment. And there’s coffee! And the coffee is delicious. I do it for the coffee. It matters a lot to me.
[Legal Hand visitor chimes in and says to Susan, “You’re young in heart and young in mind! You have an elephant memory.”]
There’s such wonderful feedback. People are very grateful.