Volunteer Spotlight

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We thank all of our Volunteer Clinic Coordinators!
(Pictured from Left: Diane Larrier, Amanda Lin, Joan Hamilton, and Sue Lee)

In 1999, Chinese UMC started its New York Justice for Our Neighbors ministry. I knew about the ministry since its inception, but I didn’t volunteer.  In 2000 the JFON coordinator, the late Helen Shum, asked if I would volunteer. I accepted and never left. Our ministry is in its 23rd year. In all these years, you might ask me why I stay as a volunteer.  First, we have the best and most amazing attorneys. Our attorneys treat each client with respect, and each client is special. Our attorneys do not do this for money (our service is free) but with love and a passion to help the voiceless. Some of our clients paid thousands and thousands of dollars to private attorneys before coming to us. With their private attorneys, many years later their case got nowhere, or worse, their case was never filed with Immigration.  

As an immigrant, I knew their hardship. I have been there before but was blessed to be here legally. I have family here. It was still hard for me to come where I did not speak the language and had to make new friends.  Imagine if you are running away from your country to get to a better country, it is even harder. You are leaving your family behind and traveling to your designated country (undocumented). You don’t know what you will be facing (a lot of unknowns). In the past few years, we heard a lot about how the undocumented arrived at the border, some came with children, some came alone, and some parents just sent their children. It is hard for each and every one.

At each of the clinics, I would see clients come in with heavy hearts, and sad faces to see the attorney. After consulting with our attorney, they feel relieved and glad they have found us for help. Of course, not all clients who come through our JFON clinic can be helped. For some clients, there is nothing we can do for them. Our attorney still gives them a consultation with respect and treats the client specially. My reward and sense of fulfillment to volunteer is to see our clients receive status to stay in the US, get their citizenship, or have their family members would be able to join them to live in the US. Just by volunteering, I learn from our attorneys how the process goes.I always say as a volunteer I come for a few hours at each clinic. I go home but our attorney comes to each clinic and goes home with more client files to work at. Some cases take a few years, some a few months.

No matter what the case is, the attorney does their best to help the client. I have never heard them complain about overwork, but of course, I know they are. Thank you to all our attorneys (TJ, Sam, Alexis, Reyadh, and all our volunteer attorneys, Yan and Jonah) and all our volunteers. Without you, this ministry would not have lasted. I am looking forward to our 25th year (Silver Jubilee) next year.


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