I didn't realize how much we accomplishedI ran into one of the Florida A&M Housing Clinic’s clients tonight at the
7-11 where she works. We stood outside for a few minutes and talked.
One of our student attorneys won a case for this client, and I’d been thinking it was a great thing. Due to a paperwork mix-up, the state was garnishing $120 from each of her paychecks for the support of a child who is living with her. The student attorney tracked down all the paperwork, gathering court orders from two different circuits. Neither courts knew what the other was doing.
Our client makes $7.95 an hour and takes home $403 every two weeks. She’s supporting three children and they’re all living in a homeless shelter in Orlando.
I’d been thinking that getting the court orders straightened out meant that she would get an additional $120 every paycheck. I thought that was great.
What I didn’t understand until tonight was that the additional income means she’ll be able to get out of the shelter and her own apartment.
What I didn’t understand was how huge a difference this would make in her life and the lives of her children. She told me that she’ll be able to return to the community as a self-sufficient person.
Maybe this will change everything, she said. Until now, she has felt that she has struggled to climb three steps up the ladder only to fall back down.
Tonight she sounded confident and empowered. And for me, a simple stop at the 7-11 turned into an amazing realization that we had really changed somebody's life.