Volunteering is a vital component of Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, and few are more involved with that process than Kathleen Bloxsome. Currently working as Volunteer Coordinator, Kathleen originally heard about our services and our mission through her church, a partner of the Clinic. There, she witnessed the Clinic’s ability to help those in need. When she learned of an opening on the Administrative team, she jumped at the opportunity. “I love working here and I love working with volunteers,” she says. “[There is] nothing better than having a conversation with someone, evaluating their gifts and talents, and figuring out where there’s a fit for them.”
As the initial contact for potential volunteers, Kathleen is responsible for identifying, placing, and engaging with these new recruits. She enjoys discovering a person’s unique talents and how they intersect with the Clinic’s mission; once she does this, she connects them to their ideal position. Her relationship with volunteers does not end at this point however. She says, “I try to get feedback continually from our volunteers to figure out what’s working and what’s not.” Indeed, she frequently checks in with her volunteers to ensure the relationship is beneficial for both them and the Clinic.
Kathleen’s role is particularly vital because of the number of clients who need assistance. Without a team of dedicated volunteers to share the workload, fewer people would be served. Additionally, volunteering is an important means of supporting the community. As Kathleen says, “When we think about being imbedded in the community … I think it really is impactful and gives one credibility. It says, ‘We care about the community we are in.’” For her, someone who is willing to volunteer translates their beliefs into action.
This idea of credibility within the community also applies to Kathleen’s faith. For her, obeying God cannot be separated from serving others. Thus, she values spiritual rewards over material rewards. She says, “You have to realize you’re in it for an eternal perspective. It’s got to be bigger than yourself.” Such actions prove to be a powerful witness for her faith. And in the context of the Clinic, she believes people are able to better spread the word of God by demonstrating that commitment.
For those who want to begin volunteering, or who do not quite know where to start, Kathleen recommends the one-day events at the Clinic, saying, “No matter who you are, an attorney or not an attorney, they’re just a really great, engaging way to see what the Clinic is about.” These events are scheduled for a specific service, such as Refugee Adjustment Day, where staff and volunteers help refugees adjust their paperwork very quickly for the entire day. “It’s kind of like a one-and-done opportunity for them to come in and get some legal services,” Kathleen explains.
She shares one particular story about an interaction with a volunteer who offered their service at a one-day event. She explains, “This volunteer did a lot of work ahead of time, on their own, reaching out to clients, following up with clients, making sure they’ll be here for the day of the event.” That volunteer even stayed late to ensure all of the work was finished. A few weeks later, she asked for a letter of recommendation to fulfill a community service requirement. “We were happy to write that letter… We were glad that they came here; we were glad that we were able to provide that.”
One of her favorite parts of Refugee Adjustment Day is getting to work face-to-face with the clients and interact with volunteers, saying, “It’s really fun. They bring their families; you get to meet their kids; you hear their stories.” Kathleen is honored to share this experience with our clients because, as she says, “We have the privilege to be a part of their story.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer for the Clinic, please visit our website.
Written by Seth Utter