Maureen "Mike" Cooper

How long have you volunteered with MCVLP?

I don’t know how long exactly but it is around 2010 – I started sending my pro bono clients to be screened through VLP – and added a few in addition to the ones that wandered into my office.

Why do you volunteer?

Everyone who is as fortunate as we are – and we are all fortunate to be educated if nothing else – has a moral obligation to help those in need. (Or as the people who know me best will say – I’m a sucker for a sad story and I can’t turn anyone away!)

What is your most memorable volunteering experience?

Tiffin Taylor next door tells the story better than I do but . . . . I had a homeless client with serious mental health issues. Some days, I thought the only thing that kept her from committing suicide was the little Chihuahua she always had with her. Sweet little dog, never made a sound. One day, the client came to my office crying hysterically. It was getting really cold out and she had gotten a spot in a shelter but they wouldn’t let her bring the dog. I offered to “babysit” the dog. Later that day, she caught a ride and brought him by my house in his nice little carrier and said he would do better if he was in a quiet place, largely left alone. Heeding her advice, I put him in the laundry room and shut the door. Never heard a peep out of him. A couple of hours later, I went out to give him some water, let him out for a little while and that dog turned into CUJO! He went absolutely crazy when I started to open the door of that carrier. Lunged at me (all 5 pounds of him) growling and foaming at the mouth, all teeth bared. I drew back and off he ran. Hours later we (my husband, both kids, several neighbors and friends) still could not catch that dog. All I could think was we were going to lose that dog and the client was going to kill herself. I finally reached the client who came right over. The minute the client got out of the car, the dog ran to her whimpering like we had been beating him! Thankfully, client had found a spot in a hotel room and could take Cujo with her. And that is the last time (wasn’t the first) I have been able to bring pet or person home! The whole family – and the neighbors – said “no more”!

In general, I have met many really nice people who were genuinely in need and very appreciative.

What advice can you give attorneys thinking about volunteering with the MCVLP?

Do it! There is so much need and so little help. If every active attorney in Madison County would just commit to two cases a YEAR, we could really help over 1000 people!