CLSMF Volunteers Make the Difference
Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida’s Volunteer Involvement Program (V.I.P.) is the firm’s centralized program for non-lawyer volunteers. V.I.P. was created in mid-2017 to streamline the firm’s leveraging volunteers throughout all 10 offices, and develop a culture of volunteerism within the organization. Since its inception, V.I.P. has recruited and onboarded over 45 volunteers who have been placed from Palatka to Kissimmee. Non-lawyer volunteers, especially paraprofessional volunteers (e.g., paralegals), enable CLSMF to pursue holistic, client-first services beyond those of a traditional non-profit law firm. Whether it is supporting the firm’s Domestic Violence unit, educating first-time homebuyers on the “in’s and out’s” of homeownership, or volunteering for veterans as part of an alternative spring break, volunteers have a unique and special place at CLSMF.
On April 20th CLSMF hosted a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon to recognize the wonderful volunteers who play such an important role in the organization. The event was especially memorable as the organization celebrated Lonna Schwerin’s 17 years of service and devotion to CLSMF’s mission. In 2001, Lonna Schwerin came across an ad for needed volunteers and decided to apply. Today, Lonna has donated more than 6,400 hours to CLSMF. During her time as a volunteer, she participated in Florida Pro Bono Coordinator meetings, Florida Supreme Court Pro Bono Service Awards and Law Day Awards Programs.
Lonna says she enjoyed working behind the scenes and no task was too small for her. She added that she loved the people and the diversity that she saw in the CLSMF workplace. Pro Bono Manager, Lena Hopkins says, “It has been a joy to work with Lonna over the years. She performed her volunteer duties at a level expected of employees. She is one of a kind. She understood legal services, our mission and our clients.”
Volunteers involved with V.I.P. are given substantive support, guidance, and training to ensure that their time and experience at CLSMF is a formative and exciting one. Indeed, it is through V.I.P. that CLSMF is able to reach the next generation of lawyers and professionals, thus encouraging an appreciation for the firm’s work as well as the needs of the Central Florida community. If you are interested in making a difference in your community by volunteering at CLSMF, please click here.