January 7 at 9:34am

Homeless court advocate receives volunteer award

The dedication by Chris Weigel to helping homeless individuals overcome their pending legal issues was recognized recently by the North County Philanthropy Council.

Weigel, a homeless court advocate, was among 53 people selected as volunteers of the year by their respective nonprofit agencies to be honored at the annual Philanthropy Council luncheon, held Nov. 14 in Carlsbad. Weigel was saluted as Interfaith’s 2013 top volunteer.

“Chris is an incredibly talented individual who brings her professional expertise and heart for the clients to her volunteer work every day,” wrote Bob Adams, Interfaith’s director of development, on the nomination form for the award. “Her commitment is an inspiration and example for all of us.”

Weigel has volunteered with Interfaith for almost three years. For the first year and a half, she served as an intake worker. She moved to the homeless court program when the number of clients taking the opportunity to have past misdemeanors and tickets dismissed by the legal system continued to grow.

Those clients meet weekly with Weigel, setting up short-term and long-term goals for themselves to achieve as they work toward personal self-sufficiency. After reaching those goals, clients then appear in Homeless Court. There, advocates such as Weigel detail their progress before a Superior Court judge, who has the power to discharge past offenses.

“Sometimes you become their cheerleader, their accountability partner, one more person they can check in with to make sure they are achieving their goals,” said Weigel in a September 2013 interview. “We encourage them, but they are the ones doing the work.

“The real role of a homeless court advocate is to give people hope,” she added.

Weigel’s fellow homeless court advocate, Tom Christie, submitted this comment on her award nomination form: “Chris is a special person whose genuine personality and commitment has led to changed lives for the clients we serve.”