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Thank you, Emily and Albi!

National Volunteer Appreciation Week
April 12 – 18, 2015
National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 by Points of Light. It presents a time to inspire, recognize and encourage people who engage in their communities. PJC volunteers are with us at the center of social change and this week, we share some stories of how together, we are ‘building a just society’.

Emily Ford and Albi Mullai are both full time volunteers through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) and the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), respectively, at the Public Justice Center. The JVC and LVC programs give participants the opportunity to live out values of simplicity, spirituality, community and social justice by placing them as full time staff members in organizations working to build a more egalitarian society.  Emily, a native of Maine, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross, while, Albi, originally from Chicago, attended Westminster College. At the midpoint of their year Emily and Albi reflect on their volunteer experience as a part of the staff at the Public Justice Center.

Emily explains: “I was attracted to the work of the Public Justice Center because the office uses a community lawyering framework in order to achieve the mission of “pursuing systemic change to build a just society.” As a paralegal in the Human Right to Housing Project, I mainly conduct intakes and follow-ups for low income tenants who are at the risk of losing their homes due to eviction, dangerous housing conditions, or their landlord’s foreclosure. I see my main role as a listener; I hear tenant’s heartbreaking stories of horrendous housing conditions, unchecked landlord retaliation and fear of homelessness every day. I find it very painful to witness the same patterns of maltreatment, especially while knowing that for every tenant our office represents in court, many others still remain voiceless; I often fail to see how my work affects any long term change. Though I still find this process extremely frustrating, I now recognize that the road to “building a just society” is a long and arduous process with many moving parts. The Public Justice Center is unique because the organization recognizes that one of these necessary aspects includes direct service, however brief, in order to alleviate some immediate need of struggling low-income tenants, while at the same time advocating for the long term systemic change.  

Albi reflects: “I decided to choose the Public Justice Center as the organization that I wanted to volunteer for because the Public Justice Center is one of the few non-profit law organizations that is working to better the society on a systemic level.  I have worked in a variety of projects at the PJC, but I mainly assist the fundraising team, as well as support the attorneys and paralegals in their work. I am particularly involved in getting the PJC to be more visible online and in the digital space.  I am doing this by conducting online advertising campaigns and also researching how the PJC might employ technology to better support clients. I have learned a lot during my time at the PJC and I can confidently say that I have grown as a professional. PJC has fully supported me during my success and also during my struggles. No matter where my future path will take me, I am humbled and very glad to call PJC the place that has taught me so much about the importance of serving others. That defines our humanity and ultimately makes us better human beings.”

More stories about volunteers

Ejaz Baluch, law clerk in the Appellate Advocacy Project and Human Right to Housing Project

Anne Geraghty Helms, Director of US Pro Bono Programs for DLA Piper
Volunteer, National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel

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