How did you hear about FFCR?  

Melissa Diaz and Ina Charles at FFCR’s 2020 Volunteer Summit

I heard about FFCR through volunteer match (online).

Why did you decide to volunteer? What has kept you here?  

I was in between jobs and trying to figure out what my next steps were going to be since moving back to Miami from NYC.  I had worked with a nonprofit organization that provided performing arts education to underserved communities, and I was a direct witness to how impactful it was to invest in the future of children who lack resources.

I decided that I wanted to volunteer for something that would have a lasting effect and be impactful to whoever I was being of service to, especially those in marginalized communities.  Once I was matched with FFCR I did a lot of research into the organization, and really felt that it was a socially conscious organization with direct access to impacting our immediate community.

My mom always says, “it’s better to be born lucky than to be born rich.”  I have always had luck on my side and had an advocate in my corner, and I feel that it’s my social and moral responsibility as a human being to advocate for a population that doesn’t have someone in their corner, the way I have.  I stay because everyone needs someone in their corner.  Every child deserves the right to be safe, cared for, and shown love and compassion, so if I can be that for one child I feel I’m making a difference.

Is there a particular child or children for whom you and/or the CRP really made a difference? How?

One case in particular stands out to me.  It was a group of 5 minor siblings who’s older sibling was trying to adopt them all.  All of the siblings were healthy and doing well, in school and really just wanted to finalize their adoption.  The oldest of the minor siblings was about to turn 18 and planned to go to an out of state school.   Eventually, I heard the oldest sibling’s case in EFC and got she had into the school of her choice and was doing well.  We don’t often get to hear a case from “beginning to end” or the same cases in each review, so it was great to hear that the older sibling was doing so well.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your volunteer service?  

I find the most challenging aspect of service is separating my emotions from the work.  I think what makes me most effective as a volunteer is my ability to empathize with the participants in the case.  We all make, what we believe, are the best decision we can with the tools and information that we have at the time, and so I try very hard to remain as objective as possible in examining the facts of a case.  But, that doesn’t negate the feelings that I experience during the course of a hearing.  I find that I must constantly remind myself that in order to be an effective volunteer, I must be empathetic, not sympathetic.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with FFCR?

 When I’m not volunteering, I’m a busy lady!!  Right now, I’m working on a Master’s in Public Administration from FIU, so I do a combination of classes online and on campus…if all goes well, I will graduate in Spring 2021.  I work for Lyft, in their Miami Hub, assisting drivers as they help the residents of South Florida get to where they need to go.  I also love to dance and work-out, so you can find me in a dance class (salsa, ballet, or musical theater) or in a group fitness class (either indoor cycling or pilates).  And then, when I’m not at work, working out, or studying, I enjoy a lazy Saturday of binge watching TV on the sofa with my two kitties or a Sunday Funday Brunch with friends.  If I find more hours in the week, I may add something else to my schedule!