Wilmington Spring Break Pro Bono Trip - Day 1 by Lashieka Hardin

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Leading up to the Spring Break Trip to Wilmington, I was so excited when I received an email stating that I was one of the ten students selected to participate in the trip. The main reason for excitement was my anticipation of the impact our efforts to restore someone’s license, a seemingly mundane task, could have on someone’s overall quality of life. Needless to say, I was not disappointed.

Before the trip began, we completed a training where we discussed the importance of understanding people of all backgrounds. We learned how to read driver’s license records and discussed the impacts that not having a driver license could have on someone. We discussed the potential barriers and differences that the clients we were working with would have with us. We did all of these activities so that we would be fully prepared to better serve.

Attorney speaks to students.

Once we arrived in Wilmington, we devoted our first day to meeting with clients. We met in the New Hanover County Public Library where we had to opportunity to put our training to the test and actually talk to a person who depended on our help. Luckily, after reading over our first client’s file before meeting with them, we knew we would be able to provide our first client with additional help during the clinic. We had about five pieces of paper that we had to explain. The first two papers were the driving records. If the client’s driving record had a failure to appear or failure to pay in New Hanover County, we were able to help them during our trip. If the client’s driving record had any other issues on the driver’s record or if the failure to pay or appear was outside of New Hanover County, we were not able to help them. We also had a script that we were to read that informed them of why they were at the Clinic, who we were, and what they could expect from us. We also had a piece of paper that asked them for detailed explanations about the impact that not having a driver’s license had on their lives.

Most of the clients were very forthcoming with information about themselves. Some of our clients told us that they had children who were disabled, they drove their vehicle anyway, they received Government assistance, they were not working, or they just wanted to do better. Talking to our clients about who they were as individuals helped us them to receive the information about whether or not we were able to help them (or not) during our three day clinic better. All in all, during the first day, my partner and I helped five clients.

After we finished helping clients, we ate dinner at El Cerro Grande with attorneys from the NC Justice Center, New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office, and the Wake County Public Defender’s Office. We then finished our first day with a reflections project at the hotel. We went around the table and discussed our highs and lows for the day. All of us were very moved by being able to help our clients and seeing the reactions on their faces once we told them that we would be able to help them. We went to bed looking forward to Day 2 where we knew we would have the opportunity to advocate for our clients to the New Hanover Assistant District Attorney, Erika Jones.

Posted by Kelly Hebrank on Tue. May 1, 2018 10:21 AM
Categories: Spring Break 2018

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