Volunteer Spotlight: Maggie Morris
Each year, the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic receives support from over 100 volunteers. Without them, it would not be possible for us to deliver the programs and services we do today. Clinic volunteers lend their time and skills to the planning and execution of special events, and to providing day-to-day assistance to our administrative team. Welcome Desk volunteers play a key role at the Clinic by making sure there is always a friendly face at the door and a warm voice on the other end of the phone. In this Volunteer Spotlight, we invited a long time Welcome Desk Volunteer Maggie Morris to share her experience here at the Clinic.
- What do you do at the Clinic?
In my almost 2 years at the Clinic I’ve had the opportunity to do an array of things. This includes helping the Office Manager Jean at front desk keep things running smoothly at the Clinic. Being a client’s first point of contact is one of the most rewarding things about volunteering. This includes greeting clients in person, facilitating access to services, and answering calls. I have also had the opportunity to assist Transitional & Housing Support Counsellors and attend a workshop put on by the legal department.
- Why did you decide to volunteer, and why us?
I wanted to experience first-hand the role of the front line worker and in supporting women who have experienced gender-based violence. I also wanted to understand better the complex interface between the various issues our clients bring to the table: citizenship status, housing concerns, and histories of violence. The Clinic is at the forefront of these issues and paving the way for change, so the it fit well with my personal and career goals. It really was a no-brainer for me to pick the Clinic as a place to explore these interests.
- What do you like about volunteering at the Clinic?
I love getting to know the people. From the many staff I’ve gotten to meet over my 2 short years, to the other volunteers all the way to our clients, I have loved getting to know so many incredible folks that identify as women from so many different walks of life. I also love volunteering somewhere where I feel like I am making a difference in women’s lives.
- What are some challenges you have faced while volunteering at the Clinic?
Obviously, as a community clinic, underfunding is so real. The biggest challenge I faced was having to tell our future clients to go on a waitlist for our services. This has made me so passionate about fighting for better funding for community clinics like ours. Taking crisis calls was also something I struggled with as a new volunteer, but I am extraordinarily grateful for some of our incredible staff who handle these calls with respect, dignity and immense compassion.
- What have you learned during your time as a volunteer?
I’ve learned a lot about my own privilege through interacting with women facing complex and layered forms of marginalization and discrimination. I’ve learned to sit with this discomfort and really reflect on what it means to have this privilege. Learning by osmosis through watching the Clinic’s staff every Tuesday helped me to better conceptualize how I might incorporate this critical reflection out in my future career and challenge some of the discourses that continue to benefit some over others. I’ve also learned how to handle difficult situations, such as de-escalation skills, which I think are integral in a legal career. The skills acquired at the Clinic have been helped me a great deal in my first year of law school.