My placement is at Catholic Migration Services in Queens, New York. Luckily my commute is just a 15-minute walk down the road! My position title is an immigration counselor. At first, it was super overwhelming, as it is a very complex area of law and I have a lot of clients. However, slowly but surely, I’m getting the hang of it. A typical day could include: interviewing potential clients to see if they are eligible for citizenship, helping clients fill out their naturalization applications, or assisting in a workshop in our Brooklyn office. Many of my clients are from Latin America, so I use my Spanish skills a lot! I have learned how important it is to have a work-life balance, so I try to leave the office by 5:30 pm.
In the evenings I go to the parish gym – where we get a free membership as volunteers! – or I go for a run in our neighborhood. Our neighborhood, Woodside, is super diverse and very safe. It takes 30-40 minutes on the subway to get to most places in downtown, so we like to explore, especially on the weekends! (Free events aren’t as hard to come by as you’d think in NYC!) I am also really active in a local church, which has led to lots of new friendships and things to do.
Are you thinking about becoming a Mercy Volunteer in NYC? My recommendation is to go for it! It’s going to be hard. There will be days you’ll feel like it isn’t worth it, but you’ll know that this is your year to give all that you can to those in need, and you’ll know that you’ll come out better for it.
Mercy Kershner: Catholic Migration Services, NYC