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November VLSP Volunteer Spotlight: HAP Volunteer Cherrie Jung

Thursday, November 03, 2005

  • By: Megan Low
  • Organization: Volunteer Legal Services Program

BASF / VLSP's Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP)is pleased to name Cherrie Jung as the November Volunteer of the Month. A dedicated, motivated, "model" volunteer, Cherrie goes above and beyond the call of duty in her work.

HAP provides free legal and related social services to individuals and families who are homeless, or at serious risk of becoming homeless. For many clients, eviction is often the final step into homelessness. It threatens the stability of individuals who are already in difficult situations, especially those whose disabilities are interfering with their ability to maintain tenancies. To illustrate this point, Cherrie describes her first case.

Cherrie represented an elderly, HIV positive client. He lived in low-income housing and believed the landlord was treating him unfairly when he was served with a 3-day move-out notice. At their first meeting, Cherrie says, "my client had all the necessary paperwork and was very organized. He definitely made my job easier…I wanted to do everything I could to help him." Cherrie went the extra mile for the client, visiting his building to see for herself what his living conditions were like. She met his neighbors, all of who stated that her client was a good tenant, contrary to what the landlord was claiming.

The landlord offered a settlement agreement in which the client could continue to live in his apartment but had to agree to conduct stipulations. Convinced her client was getting a raw deal; Cherrie turned the settlement down. Her tenacity paid off; the case was dismissed. During their last meeting, the client told her he felt, "a cloud has been lifted," and was excited to share his future plans and the news that he was healthier.

This case was Cherrie's first foray into litigation; she is currently a transactional attorney at Elsevier MDL, an East Bay software company, where she is encouraged to do pro bono work. "With the support and guidance of HAP staff and mentors," Cherrie says, "I had no doubt it could be done." HAP staff attorney Ted Janowsky emphasizes this point:"Representing clients who are facing eviction (and homelessness) can be an extremely challenging experience…the pro bono attorney must quickly assimilate a considerable body of knowledge and litigation…I was so impressed by the way that Cherrie rose to the occasion."

Of her first pro bono case, Cherrie says, "I think I got more out of it than the client. My client was a college-educated, sociable individual who had experienced a series of unfortunate events in life that were largely out of his control. HAP clients are so cooperative. The negative stereotypes that exist in our community about homeless people are largely misguided, and it's encouraging to know agencies like HAP exist."

Born and raised in Korea, Cherrie moved to the United States when she was 18. After living in Seattle, Cherrie moved to the Bay Area, which she now calls home. After receiving her J.D. from University of San Francisco School of Law, and being admitted to the California State Bar, she learned about VLSP. She quickly became a member of BASF, and signed up for HAP's volunteer training. Two weeks later, she accepted her first HAP case.

In what little spare time Cherrie has, Cherrie focuses on her music and training for marathons. Coming from an artistic family, she enjoys the vibrant music scene in the City. Of pro bono work, Cherrie says, "It is part of my self-discovery process. Through my clients' perspectives, I grow into a better person and a better attorney. I am blessed to have worked with my pro bono clients. I think every lawyer should help a homeless person."

Use your legal skills to change lives. HAP's volunteer training is available on videotape. For more information about how you can get involved with HAP, please contact Megan Low at 415.782.8958 or vlsp@sfbar.org

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