The gangs in Honduras began harassing Ana* when she was only 14. But after being abandoned by both of her parents when she was young, Ana’s support system was minimal. Beta Martinez, who works in the Clinic’s Immigrant Justice Program, says that the gangs waited for Ana to leave school in the afternoons. “They were telling her, ‘You need to be ours,’” she says.
For some time, Mario and his friend were harassed by a local Narco group led by the town’s own Mayor. “[The Mayor] tries to recruit all the boys to be murderers and vigilantes for him,” says Rachel. But Mario and his friend both resisted. This refusal came at a high price, and when Mario was only 16, the Narcos killed his friend in front of him. Mario barely escaped with his life.
For many of our clients, and for many of us, we know this pain well. Many of our immigrant clients come from countries where they faced brutal oppression and constant danger. Many of them lost loved ones and don’t know if they’ll ever see their families again. They were irreparably harmed, unceremoniously torn out of joint by people with power. What can be said to them? What can possibly be expressed to provide comfort and peace in the midst of such deep travail?
We’ve been celebrating National Volunteer Appreciation Week on Facebook by sharing old stories from the blog about some of our best and hardest-working volunteers. This month, we shared a new story about a volunteer attorney named Tim Fox, who is always committed to going “Above and Beyond” for our clients. We then met a recent employee of the Clinic, Jim Floyd, who started out as a volunteer for the Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
Deeply entrenched in the community, their mission is about seeing a need and playing an active role in meeting that need. “We have always said that we want to be the kind of church that if we disappeared tomorrow that our communities would feel the loss,” says Wayland. “We believe that to get to this place, you have to roll up your sleeves and start to serve your neighbors.”
Just over a year ago, Jim Floyd and his wife were about to go to dinner when he decided to take some medicine for what he thought was a migraine. But when his wife asked him a question a few minutes later, the words that came out of Jim’s mouth were nonsensical. As someone who used to teach courses on emergency care for strokes, Jim knew exactly what was happening to him. He was experiencing a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), sometimes referred to as a mini-stroke, and he was suffering from expressive aphasia, his speech rendered largely incoherent.
Tim Fox is the polar opposite of the lawyer found in stereotypical jokes. Far from being greedy or stingy with his time and knowledge, as a volunteer for Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, he regularly stretches the bounds of what it means to give freely of oneself. When unavoidable hiccups in the system threaten to shut down an intake on a particular day or when time is critical for a certain client, Tim simply improvises.
March Madness Brackets-for-Good style was full tilt this year! #TeamJustice made it to the Supported Sixteen for the first time thanks to your generous support! During the Clinic’s 3-week run, we raised more than ever to provide free legal services to our low-income neighbors: $35,004! If you missed a chance to support us during this competitive-giving tournament, you can still donate to the Clinic here. And don’t forget to check out our Brackets-for-Good playlist to watch the videos we released each week!
Nearly a year and a half earlier, Tyler and his father drove from their home in Missouri to Indianapolis. His father was going to drop Tyler off for a week-long visit with his Aunt Sara. But at the end of the week, Tyler’s father did not return. “Dad left and never came back,” says Kelsey. For a time, Tyler’s father still made some effort at contact. “He would send [Tyler] cards every once in awhile, so he didn’t totally disappear, but he wouldn’t come back for him,” Kelsey says. “He always said he didn’t have money to come back and get him.”
Janet found the face-to-face meetings with clients during intake to be especially transformative, their needs frequently going beyond the scope of what legal assistance could provide. Although she was able to offer them her legal expertise, their stories were often filled with dark and difficult chapters. “In some cases, we met the face of profound despair,” Janet says. “This is the humanizing encounter and one where Jesus has called us to be present.”