California Western’s Administrative Receptionist Miriam Hernandez has been recognized for her volunteer work with the Community Law Project (CLP).
Epitomizing the spirit of giving back that pervades California Western staff Hernandez was recently recognized as CLP’s Volunteer of the Year for her work with students and clients and her translation services for the program.
Hernandez has been volunteering for CLP since early 2017 and is at the downtown clinic every other Monday from 5:15 pm till sometimes up to 9:45 pm. She helps with set-up, translation services and inputs all the data about the clinics’ clients.
“When I found out about CLP it really interested me as to how it worked with law students and how it helped our community,” says Hernandez. “To see how our students take their knowledge and use it outside the classroom is great. The program helps our students and the community, so I see it as a win-win,” she continues.
Hernandez’s passion for helping CLP’s clients is deeply rooted in her own family experiences. Her father was an undocumented immigrant, and she vividly remembers what they had to go through in the immigration process.
“With my father, we had to go through different stages for him to legally reside in the U.S.,” Hernandez recalls. “Most of our clients at the downtown CLP clinic are immigration cases and every time I hear their stories it reminds me of my family and what we had to go through.”
Dana Sisitsky, CLP’s Executive Director, describes Hernandez as energetic and a person who maintains such positivity through an often-chaotic clinic environment. “She truly is a joy to have in our clinic family,” says Sisitsky.
Hernandez not only helps CLP’s clients in the clinic but in her role as CWSL receptionist, she directs many of their clients to the clinic.
“She handles clients inside and outside of the clinic with patience and compassion,” says Sisitsky. “She can tell clients about our clinic with the familiarity that only comes by actually working there several times per month. This knowledge and the compassionate manner in which Miriam provides it allows clients an increased level of comfort before they even set foot in our clinics.”
On receiving the recognition of CLP’s Volunteer of the Year Hernandez is characteristically self-effacing. “It fulfills me,” she says. “It tells me I’m doing something right. I should continue. It’s worth it.”
Hernandez continues, “The award is really representing me as a person, but also my parents and my community. I’m here because I want to make America better; I want to help people who are in need.”
For more information on California Western’s Community Law Project visit: https://www.cwsl.edu/clinics-and-programs/community-law-project