In the Spotlight: Meet Miranda!
Updated: Jun 5, 2019
What is your role at Sojourner?
I am a legal advocate. I provide information and support to help clients create a safe and stable life. I follow domestic assault criminal cases that occur in the western suburbs and talk to various “players” in the criminal justice system to make sure that the client’s voice is heard throughout the criminal process. In addition, I help clients understand the criminal justice process and provide them information in regards to what to expect within the criminal court system.
I also support clients in navigating the civil court system. Primarily, I assist clients in writing orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. I also support clients while they endure family court. This could mean anything from going with them to their first child support hearing to supporting the client through a custody or divorce trial.
Lastly, I am the lead facilitator for the Community Program support group. I put together discussion topics related to domestic violence and health and wellness to help clients understand and heal from the traumatic experiences they have endured. Support group also shows clients that they are not alone and helps decrease the isolation they may experience.
What is your history with Sojourner?
I started with Sojourner as an intern in the Summer of 2015. I mainly interned in the shelter, but I was able to shadow the Community Program a couple of times. At the end of my internship I went back to school in Chicago to finish my degree. I learned so much at Sojourner that I wanted to continue working with the organization even when I lived 400 miles away. While I was in school, I continued to volunteer with Sojourner as an intervention volunteer. During this time, I would call intervention clients on the weekend and introduce them to Sojourner Project and the organization’s services. After I graduated from college, I was able to move back to Minnesota and begin my career as a full time advocate in the Community program.
What other background do you bring into your work with Sojourner?
I graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a BS in psychology and criminal justice. While I lived in Chicago I became involved with many parts of the criminal justice system and worked with children and adolescents. I helped the Chicago Police Department run a soccer program and dance class for children near the University. The goal of these programs was to better the relationship between police officers and local citizens. At my university, I gave tours of the campus to adolescents to encourage them to consider college in their post-graduation plans. Working with youth and helping them find safety and stability has always been a passion of mine. This is part of the reason I was drawn to interning with Sojourner Project in 2015. In addition, I was able to learn more about the court system by interning with the Cook County State’s Attorney office. This especially helped as I transitioned into my role as a full time advocate. I feel very comfortable in a courtroom!
What draws you to advocacy?
I have the honor of working with incredibly brave people every single day.
How do you sustain yourself while doing this work?
My support systems both in and outside the office are incredibly important to supporting myself as an advocate. The community program is extremely collaborative. Whenever a client may have a particularly challenging obstacle in their life, I know that I can count on my co-workers to help me think of creative ways to support them. In my personal life, my family has always encouraged me to follow my passion for serving others. I am extremely grateful for their continual support.
Do you have any particular client stories that stand out to you or that you feel you were able to make a real impact with?
In short, yes. I have been working with many of my clients for several months. It is very cool when advocates are able to get to know their clients outside of domestic abuse. I feel like I have made the most impact when I am able to learn about my clients as a person, not a victim of abuse. When my clients tell about their career, their values, and their interest I know that they trust me. This is when I feel I have made the most impact.
What do you most want people to know about the work that Sojourner does?
I think that it important for others to know that advocacy is so much more than going to court. It's asking clients how they really feel about the situations that they are in. Sometimes, advocacy is meeting up with someone while they figure out how to safely end a relationship. Other times advocacy is helping someone transition from a two parent household to a single parent household and finding resources to assist in that transition. Advocacy is documenting how we have helped clients, so we can continue to provide services. It is getting a cup of coffee with someone, so they don't feel so alone. Advocacy is different for each client.