Meet Ms. Brenda: The Heart and Soul of Our Foothills Office

In every workplace, there’s that one person who seems to hold everything together. At our Foothills office, that person is Brenda Carlin, beloved support staff member, and dog mom to two office mascots – Shitzu’s April and Skylar. Brenda is versatile, navigating through responsibilities including client intake, office management, telephone correspondence, walk-in assistance, attorney support, procurement of supplies, mail organization, troubleshooting computer issues, and an array of other vital tasks.

Learn more about Brenda as she answers questions about her role at Legal Aid of North Carolina.

What is your favorite part about being a support staff?

I like to help people. I like making time for our clients. Whether it’s a walk-in, telephone call, or processing a domestic violence or housing case – I think that, in some ways, I help people by just giving them someone to talk to.  I try to make them feel like I have no other cases and it’s their time.  I have several contacts and resources that I give to most of our clients. I always offer them a cup of coffee or a cold drink and take a few minutes to just listen. 

What is your favorite part about working at Legal Aid of North Carolina?

My favorite part is working with the attorneys and being able to help our clients.  Even if they don’t become clients, I hope that I have been able to help them in some way. 

A lot of my passion comes from the fact that I grew up in a rural country community and was dirt poor.  I have four sisters and two half-brothers, and we didn’t miss anything growing up, because we didn’t know it was there to be missed. 

I have learned over the years that just listening to our clients, wishing them a good day, and giving them any information is sometimes all it takes. 

What is your favorite part about working with clients?

We get all kinds of people and all kinds of issues, but I truly enjoy listening and trying to get as many cases in as possible. 

Some of the clients have their own stories of life and it’s interesting.  I had one client who when he came in with a Will issue, stood and played with April and Skylar and then informed me that he had just lost his wife and was trying to get everything done before they buried her.  He looked at me and told me how nice it was to be able just to play with the dogs and then proceeded to say that he would love to take them home. I realized that I have a special Managing Attorney who allows me to bring April and Skylar. On many occasions, they have warmed clients’ hearts.

Do you have a favorite client memory?

I remember one client in the last six months that came into the office.  I don’t remember her particular issue, but it was one that we could not help with.  I remember she had her phone stuffed down her shirt, listening to a preacher preach.  And she wasn’t about to turn down the sound because when it stopped, she simply restarted it.  But she was telling me about her issues and how they kept telling her to come into our office. So, I listened for a while and finally offered her the NC referral number. I remember telling her that maybe her church could help.  She agreed and left after a few minutes.  Two days later she was back.  I listened to see if anything had changed for her, but it was the same story.  She looked and me and said that they had told her to come here, so I asked her who they were, and she informed me it was the birds.

More about Brenda:

Brenda’s life is enriched by the joy of being a grandmother to two sets of twins. Her daughters have each given her a grandson and granddaughter who share the special bond of twinship—one set at the age of five, and the other just celebrating their first year. Alongside her cherished family moments, Brenda finds fulfillment in her artistic endeavors, including reading, drawing, and quilting. One particularly proud moment, captured by Managing Attorney Jonathan Perry, is Brenda standing beside a wall hanging she crafted for the conference room.

As she contemplates her upcoming departure from Legal Aid, Brenda is filled with a mix of emotions. She will miss the camaraderie and meaningful work shared with her colleagues as she prepares to bid farewell at the end of this year.