This is a guest blog post from Disaster Legal Corps Fellow Yoona Lim ('16), of New York Legal Assistance Group in New York, New York.
I am an AmeriCorps Fellow in New York City with the New York Legal Assistance Group, working for their Storm Response Unit. This unit tackles a wide range of disaster-related legal issues such as administrative FEMA and state recovery program appeals and hearings, flood insurance claims and reexaminations, foreclosure prevention, and consumer issues. I spend my workdays conducting case consultations, providing direct representation, and engaging in education and outreach in order to holistically serve clients.
I chose to join AmeriCorps because I wanted to use my education and passion for public interest to serve and advocate for the community. I am proud to say that I still have that same motivation to do meaningful work, and it is a great feeling to wake up every morning excited to go to work. While I am not naïve enough to believe that I am changing the world every day, I truly believe that my work is making a difference in my clients’ lives. As one of my colleagues once said, being a public interest lawyer is the closest I will get to become a real life superhero. Although I’m not powerful enough to prevent a hurricane or strong enough to stop a meteorite, I come to work every day to assist storm victims to fully recover from the storm by working on getting them access to federal or state recovery programs, or representing them in contractor fraud claims.
It is incredibly rewarding to know that my hard work can help someone to rehabilitate, or to keep them from losing their home. In preventing the federal government from recouping grants, successfully obtaining a special permit to move forward with home repairs, or merely receiving a sincere “thank you” from a client, every positive outcome reached has impacted not only my clients’ lives but my own. While it is challenging to navigate the system to advocate for my clients who are still trying to fully recover from the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy over four years ago, it is also a constant reminder that even a smallest difference I can make has a huge lasting impact on someone’s life.