MatZyonna Howard joined PBRC in 2019 and serves as Project Coordinator for the Home Preservation Project. Matte is the point of contact for clients interested in attending legal advice clinics or seeking other legal resources. She also assists with managing and tracking Home Preservation Project trainings offered to volunteer attorneys.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in West Las Vegas, Nevada in the historic and vibrant African-American community. My house is in a neighborhood not too far from the Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino. This casino was known for housing some of the world’s greatest artists such as Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat “King” Cole during the time of segregation. I enjoyed growing up in an area with such rich history and culture.
What brought you to Maryland/Baltimore?
I moved to Baltimore for college and decided to call it home the day after I graduated undergrad.
Where did you go to school and what was your major/focus?
I studied Political Science and Pre-law at Morgan State University. I have always wanted to be lawyer. However, as I got older, I realized there was a serious difference between the lawyers on my TV screen and the ones I met in person and decided that I would probably be a better help behind the scenes.
What are your interests/hobbies?
I am a dancer, it is my passion! Although I have been dancing for a very long time, I started training in 2007 at the West Las Vegas Art Center. At the Art Center, I took classes in modern, jazz, ballet, traditional African, and hip hop. I also enjoy watching movies and TV shows; I actually study the actors and actresses and the choices they make to bring those characters to life–it’s a performing arts geek thing I guess.
How did you connect with PBRC?
Unfortunately, I did not know about PBRC until I was brought on as a temp, but after my first day I knew I wanted to be here permanently.
What were you doing prior to working here?
I was a CDF (Children’s Defense Fund) Freedom School servant leader intern for an amazing non-profit organization, P.O.P (Play on Purpose) Inc., an organization that encourages student athletes to be leaders both on and off the court.
What do you do at PBRC?
I am a project coordinator for the Home Preservation Project. I help plan and facilitate free legal advice clinics for residents in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. I also ensure that I provide every person who calls in looking for legal help with the resources that they need, whether it’s through PBRC or any of the organizations we partner with.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Outside of being the first person in my household to graduate college, my proudest accomplishment would have to be becoming a member of the PBRC team. Working in a position that offers free legal services to those in need allows me to serve others, which I have always enjoyed and puts my expensive undergraduate degree to good use.
Who is your hero?
My mother is my hero! Unfortunately, it was not until after college that I realized how truly amazing my mother has been in my life and others. After my father lost his job in 2008, for over 6 years my mother maintained a household of 7. This was on one source of income that was well under $40,000 a year. Becoming an adult with bills, on a daily basis I marvel at my mother’s strength, discipline, and tenacity to keep her family afloat during hard times. My siblings and I never wanted for anything. I thank God for my mother every day.
What has been your most meaningful experience with PBRC?
My most meaningful experience with PBRC so far was with a woman registering for an estate planning clinic. We were having a casual conversation about why this clinic was so important to have in the community. We shared personal stories of how our families struggled to keep properties and tangible items in the family after a love one passed because no one thought these documents were needed or didn’t have access to them for financial reasons. It was through our conversation I discovered why I felt so strongly about joining PBRC and how being a part of the Home Preservation Project would allow me to make sure no other family will have to go through what mine is going through now.
What do you appreciate about PBRC’s mission?
I appreciate that the mission is centered around providing life-changing services to our clients free of charge. Growing up I was able to be a part of free youth programs and discounted summer programs that shaped me into the person I am today, so I know firsthand how important organizations such as PBRC are to the community and to the world.
Tell us something random.
I have always wanted to time travel to experience some of my favorite decades such as the 20s, 50s, 60s, and 80s in person and also have the opportunity to meet and chat with some of the most influential people during those times.