Am I Making a Meaningful Impact?

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Release Date: 
Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Making an Impact on Society
Written By: Jack Mok

Before I joined AmeriCorps, I’d worked in politics for the better part of my college career. I’d worked for the Tennessee Democratic Party, my home state’s governor, a Nashville councilmember, and a Chancery Court judge. After four years, I still loved the excitement of election night and the nobility of our democratic process, but I couldn’t help but feel a little tired from it all. Logically, I knew I was making a difference. I was helping people get elected. These people would design and create policies that benefited the lives of people in Nashville and in New York. But the connection felt so tenuous, so far away.

There were many times when I wondered whether or not I was even making an impact. What drew me to the Center for Appellate Litigation was how much closer the connection to the public good seemed. Win or lose, plea deal or not, people who have gone through the trial process still need advocates to continue speaking out on their behalf. My job would be to help them access those advocates and expand that access broadly across New York City.

Halfway through my service term, I still admit that there are times when my connection feels small. But there are many little moments that bring light into my service and remind me that the work is important — client letters and family calls filled with gratitude, hope. And of course, the good cheer and love that the rest of my teammates provide me with. Overall, I’m proud of the difference I’m making right now and I hope to bring this experience forward after my service term. Many thanks to the NLADA, CAL, and AmeriCorps staff members for creating this opportunity to help reform New York’s criminal justice system.