Lorenna Higgins: Offers smiling face, kind words

Published 5:45 am Monday, August 1, 2022

Treasured local volunteer Lorenna Higgins lends her time to help patrons at the Calcasieu Parish Law Library at the Southwest Louisiana Law Center. She has been with the Law Center Library for about seven years.

In the years prior to Hurricane Laura, Higgins was employed at the institution. After returning home from her hurricane evacuation, Higgins decided to return to her former place of employment a few days out of the week as a volunteer.

“I was gone for about a year,” she said. “When I came back, I wanted to have something to do. So, I decided to volunteer there.”

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Volunteer work helps Higgins remain out and about.

“At my age, I like to still get up and interact with people. It’s about that giving of yourself and trying to be an aide in whatever area that you can.”

In her position, she often encounters people dealing with delicate and stressful situations. “Sometimes people come in and they are just a little upset or they feel like nobody has time to listen to them,” she explained. “So I’m there to listen to them. I’ve had to pull out the Kleenex, and just let them talk.”

“It means a lot to be people sometimes, to just have someone to listen to.”

At the library, Higgins helps patrons determine and purchase the forms they require for various legal situations.

“I cannot give them any legal advice, but they are able to purchase these forms. If they decide that they cannot do it, then we always advise that they talk to the law center and possibly speak to an attorney.”

Higgins is not a lawyer, but according to Mark Judson, SWLA Law Center executive director and general counsel, “her general life experiences, listening skill and pleasant and helpful nature results in peace of mind” in the center’s patrons.

Higgins returns these sentiments. “The Law Center workers, we are all like family,” she said. “It is a very pleasant place to work.”

For Higgins, there is happiness to be found in giving to other people. “Sometimes it’s just nice to see a smiling face or some kind words,” she said. “I just love people.”

“I get joy out of the response when you are able to help, especially with all of the things we as a community have been going through over these past few years,” she said. “It’s just nice to be able to talk to someone and feel good when you walk away, or see the same response on them.”

This is the most pleasant part of her position. “A smile and a kindness towards people means a whole lot,” she said. “You see their response … their whole demeanor begins to change. They’re just so happy and so glad, and so you’re glad that you are able to provide that for them.”

There are many benefits and joys found in volunteering. However, it isn’t always easy, and Higgins wants to ensure current and future volunteers remember this. “You really have to be a people person, you really have to be patient, and you have to extend kindness,” she said. “You run into different types of people, but you have to be patient and you have to try to provide whatever it is that they need.

“You’ve got to make them feel like they are important, which they are. What they are experiencing is important. You have to be interested in what they have to say and find out how you can further assist them in their situation.”

When she is not at the Law Library, Higgins finds herself helping at her church and visiting the Calcasieu Parish Public Library.