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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

Homeless Advocates Make a Difference

By Vince Sison, Executive Assistant & Database Coordinator, VLSP


This month, VLSP spotlights two people who are committed to making a difference: Laura Johnson and Jessica Stewart.

Upon graduation, both Laura and Jessica enrolled into the Lutheran Volunteer Corps (LVC), and are now living in San Francisco dedicating a year of service as legal and social service advocates at Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP), a project of VLSP that provides legal and social services to San Franciscans who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless.

Katie Danielson, HAP Senior Supervising Attorney, says, “It’s so refreshing each fall to have a new class of Lutheran Volunteers bringing a fresh perspective and vitality to the work here at HAP.”

A Minnesota native, Johnson received her Psychology degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota just before enrolling in LVC. Fiercely driven by her passion for helping those most marginalized, Johnson always wanted to play a role in the pursuit of social justice. She recalls, “I recently submitted my first client’s application for Social Security Insurance. If he is approved he will be able to afford stable housing. It feels really good to know that I assist clients in receiving benefits they are guaranteed as a member of our society.” When asked about working at HAP she says, “The environment is very nurturing and positive…People are committed to their work and serious about making a difference in people’s lives, but we laugh a lot too.”

Hailing from Massachusetts, Jessica volunteered in Mexico City immedi-ately after graduating from Assumption College in Worcester with her degree in Economics and Global Studies, before joining HAP. Stuart was highly involved in service work throughout her undergraduate career, including traveling to New Orleans to help rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward. She also worked as a service director at a transitional home for former prisoners and at the Massachusetts Veteran’s Shelter. Regarding the work that HAP does in the community, Jessica said, “Our clients at HAP come to us because they are in distress, and at first I found it very challenging/painful to hear their stories when I felt there was little I could do to help them, but I’ve found that being with people in their struggles and truly listening helps more than we know. Our work at HAP doesn’t just help people find hope with cases won or benefits awarded. I’ve seen the difference one can make in people’s lives merely by treating them with dignity and love.”

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