Today I Was An Advocate

Posted: June 8, 2009 in Justice

Today I was an advocate.  My job was to work the room at a public social services office, meet the people, uncover problems, and defend their rights.  There may not be a better way to spend an afternoon.

I met lots of interesting people, most of which I wasn’t able to provide with any legal help. But there were two men specifically that I was able to help. One had no idea that the hotel voucher he had accepted would eat up most of his relief check for an entire month – we helped him take care of that. And the other involved a violation of a man’s constitutional right to due process (that he didn’t even know had been violated). This one turned into such a tiff that we ended up in the bowels of the facility an hour after closing time with the guy in charge of the entire building, but before we left, my new friend was getting the benefits he deserved.

Probably what surprised me most today was that nearly every poor person I met was so very kind. I mean, not just friendly, but downright examples of the virtue of kindness. One told me how importance patience is to him. Another told me how important it is to treat people right. An elderly homeless lady gave me a blessing. These are people of whom you would lock the doors if you saw them headed your way. But you and I don’t know them. They are just poor. Otherwise, they are you and I.

It is going to be an interesting summer. One of the offices we are scheduled to visit later this summer is on the dividing line of the Bloods and the Crips, and our supervising attorney told us that we shouldn’t wear red or blue that day – so far as to not even wear blue jeans. Yes, this will be an interesting summer.

Today I was an advocate. Luckily, I get to be one tomorrow, too.

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