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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Stories From the Frontlines: Volunteers Share Their Experiences Working with VLSP’s Homeless Advocacy Project

 

VLSP’s Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) welcomes volunteers from social services agencies. Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC) is one such agency, offering their participants one-year placements with programs working for social justice. Two LVC volunteers offer a glimpse into their work at HAP.

Annie Moore

Annie MooreI came to the Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) as an idealistic volunteer with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC). LVC volunteers work for social justice causes, live communally, and commit to a “simple and sustainable lifestyle.” I became involved in social justice work while I was studying at UC Berkeley, and LVC appealed to me because I wanted to learn, work, and live with conscientious people after I graduated. I feel fortunate to have found LVC, and even more fortunate to have been matched with one of the most supportive and rewarding placements – doing social service advocacy at HAP.

When I entered the HAP office, I was immediately struck by how well my new co-workers balance professionalism and compassion. Above all, my experience taught me how the act of identifying with and reaching out to someone can resonate beyond a single interaction. Interviewing a client keeps both of us grounded and motivated to seek out every option. As Oliver Sacks wrote, “kinship is healing; we are physicians to each other.” My time at HAP has shown me how volunteering helps both the volunteer and the person in need feel hopeful and connected to the wider world. After my term of service ends, I hope to enroll in a Masters in Social Welfare program and continue working for organizations similar to VLSP.
One of the reasons HAP is able to provide so much support to clients is because staff and volunteers take a “holistic service” approach to problems. Clients are often dealing with multiple issues and need both social and legal services. Although I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the many pressures and barriers my clients are facing, I am always reminded by my supervisor Julie Rosenthal, VLSP’s Director of Social Services, that no one leaves the HAP office worse than when they entered. At the very least, we will always try to open another door and lend an open mind.

Dami Obaro Oluwadamilola

I was born in England to Nigerian parents and also lived for a period of time in Gambia before moving to the U.S. in 2002.I graduated from the University of Chicago in June with a degree in Political Science.

While in college, I had the opportunity to do many different types of social service work, such as working at a rape crisis center and counseling torture survivors in Chicago. I knew that I wanted to continue that kind of work after graduating, and so the LVC appealed to me because it would allow me to do that kind of work with a supportive community of like-minded people. I picked HAP as my placement because I was attracted to the collegial work environment and wanted to learn more about legal approaches to social services.

I love working at HAP! It is such an incredibly supportive environment to work in, and it really does feel like a team. One of my favorite moments was when one of the attorneys was preparing for a trial, and the whole office rallied around him to get all of the legal documents completed and to prepare witnesses. It was such a great feeling knowing that everyone supported our colleague, and we won the case! The client later sent a thank-you email, and it was awesome because I had conducted the client’s intake. And so within just a couple of weeks of coming to HAP, I got to see a winning case from beginning to end.


 

To learn more about how to volunteer with HAP, email us at vlsp@sfbar.org or visit www.sfbar.org/hap.

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