Public service is a fulfilling outlet for growth. It helps practice “getting out there,” promoting, becoming comfortable in new settings, asking questions, and gaining appreciation amid other workers.

When I was introduced to the Florida Foster Care Review Project, I learned the underpinnings of abuse, specifically in children. The training left an imprint, provided an overview of dependency law, and informed me regarding structures fashioned to protect and reunite foster children with family members or prepare them for adoption.

Later, I became involved with a grassroots citizens’ lobby called RESULTS. RESULTS focuses on the end of hunger and poverty, utilizing an empowerment model that fosters collaboration and self-reliance. With RESULTS, I learned the ins and outs of effecting change through legislation. I lobbied Congress for the voiceless for 20 years. I learned about trim-tabbing: taking small steps that lead to large moves to make a global difference, which included writing letters to the editor and Op Ed pieces (two of which were published in local newspapers!).

I see clearly how working with a group like RESULTS changes and touches thousands of lives.

Some of my proudest work was volunteering in Nicaragua, seeing how microcredit loans helped women and children in the barrios. Because of that experience, I picked up the native language and now conduct business in both English and Spanish. This service-adopted skill came in handy in 2018, when a team of therapists joined St. Thomas law assisting detainees at a Federal Detention Center in Karnes, Texas, following the implementation of family separation policies.

Participation enables us to build a broad network of support and friends. Serving as an advisory board member for the American Nicaragua Foundation and contributing as a director with both the Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. and Date County Bar Association, brought reward. These organizations provide education, services, benefits and training to their stakeholders, and serving them made me a better professional and gave me experience that was not just valuable but highly memorable.

One lovely experience performing service was when I became a mentor to a foster care teen through Educate Tomorrow, an organization supporting foster care students to stay in school and become independent. I spent three years with a beautiful Honduran youth (now married and living with her partner and two children). Our relationship deepened my awareness of how the law intersected with her life, in complex ways, as an immigrant, a foster child, and a student.

Traveling back through memory lane, I find myself uplifted. Public service work definitely brought smiles and joy to my heart. It is with service organizations that I plan to continue to participate, contribute, engage, and grow–for more than just truth and justice, but for the sake of the soul. When the day-to-day attorney grind can give any lawyer tunnel vision, public service is a way to stoke the ideals of the law.

Consider how your participation in public service could be a win-win, and jump in. Your talents are needed and wanted, now more than ever.


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