Staff Profile: Marilyn Fitzpatrick
July, 2011 – When a new Legal Aid client steps off the elevator and into the Cleveland office, there is a good chance they will see the smiling face of Marilyn Fitzpatrick. For more than a decade, Ms. Fitzpatrick has been a receptionist for Legal Aid, welcoming clients and directing them to resources.
Earlier this year, Ms. Fitzpatrick was mentioned in The Plain Dealer’s “Thankful Thursday” by a grateful client: “I went to the Legal Aid Society on January 20 with a problem and saw Marilyn. She was so caring and knowledgeable. Thank you for having such a good employee.” Ms. Fitzpatrick responds, “I was shocked; I was just doing my job.”
Legal Aid Deputy Director David B. Dawson says, “Marilyn is in the position of being a problem solver. It’s a position that requires tact, sensitivity, and compassion. We are a bridge over troubled water, and she is the first step in constructing that bridge.”
Indeed, Ms. Fitzpatrick, a Cleveland native, values Legal Aid’s mission. What resonates with her most, she says, are domestic violence cases. She has empathy for the many women who walk through the doors of Legal Aid when they are in the midst of a crisis. Ms. Fitzpatrick smiles as she describes clients who come in looking defeated and leave with a visible sense of relief: “They sign the papers to end the dispute and leave walking on air.”