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Volunteer Spotlight Published September 12, 2022

Delisa Martinez

Meet September’s Volunteer of the Month

Delisa Martinez, VIP’s September Volunteer of the Month, was a practicing lawyer in the Dominican Republic before moving to the United States to pursue her LLM. Initially her plan was to move back home to the DR, but Delisa decided to stay in the US and go to law school. When Delisa learned about Philadelphia VIP in class, she didn’t hesitate to volunteer.

“VIP was looking for translators more than anything, and Spanish is my first language,” Delisa said. “I also wanted to understand the law field in the U.S. So it was kind of an adventure for me, and something I viewed as an important part of my degree.”

She felt nervous to start her first case, but it was an easy process; attending a meeting with the volunteer attorney and VIP client, translating what the lawyer was saying in layman’s terms to the client and helping them move the process along. Working closely with the volunteer attorneys and accurately explaining difficult legal concepts to the client, adding to her professional and law school experience.

Delisa said she was surprised to discover the entire process wasn’t as time consuming as she first assumed. She said VIP’s staff members  understand that she is in law school and juggling different commitments.

 “VIP doesn’t make me feel like I have to do something if I don’t have the time to take it. But the feeling that you get when you help people is so overwhelmingly good that you want to keep doing it.”

Delisa’s work is more than just providing translation services. As a recent immigrant from the DR, she recognized that the majority of people she translates for are also immigrants. She understands the difficult situations they are in and connects with them in a personal way. “They don’t only see you as a translator. They see you as the person that is directly helping them, and as you get to know them they learn to trust you,” Delisa said. “This relationship you develop with them, whether it’s a moment or a longer case, is meaningful.”