This September was a flurry of preparations for our Justice for All gala on Thursday, Oct. 6th featuring guest speaker Bob Goff, best-selling author of Love Does. To everyone already planning on attending, we can’t wait to see you! And if you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, there’s still a little bit of time left!
We also released Episode 3, Part 2 of our podcast Courting Justice this month, in which we learn more about the community found by refugees who are resettled in Indianapolis. And we met Stephen, a veteran who suffered from PTSD and came to the Clinic seeking assistance with his mortgage.
Do you know any “Yes!” people in your life? You know what I’m talking about—the kind of person that’s up for anything, always ready to jump on an opportunity at a moment’s notice. Their idiomatic lexicon is replete with sayings like, “Let’s do it!” and “I’ll try anything once!” and “No regrets!”
If you don’t think you have anyone like that in your life, it’s you. For sure.
After completing the initial steps of the Clinic’s intake process, Stephen was assigned to Housing Counselor Helene Rodriguez, who was determined to help him. “It just made me realize that sometimes it’s not [a client’s] fault that they fall behind on their mortgage,” she says. “It’s their medical condition, or traumatic events.”
What kinds of things might bar a refugee or immigrant from entering the United States? What is our obligation as a UN nation to helping refugees? And what role does faith play in providing services to them?
In Part 2 of our special two-part series on Immigration and Refugees, Director of Outreach & Immigration Services at Exodus Refugee Megan Hochbein and Immigrant Justice Program Staff Attorney Rachel VanTyle answer these questions and share some of their favorite moments working with refugees.
This August, we contemplated the idea of sacrifice with the help of Executive Director Chris Purnell’s musings on sacrifice’s hope for a better future. We also learned more about Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Bloxsome and her role at the Clinic.
We were introduced to two committed donors of the Clinic and their reasons for regular giving. And we celebrated both the success of our Naturalization Day, when Clinic staff and volunteers helped 62 clients on their path to citizenship, as well as the success of a Project Grace client who got his life back on track again.
On August 20, the Clinic held a 1-day event known as Naturalization Day. Hosted by Washington Township at Northview Middle School, volunteers and Clinic staff served 62 individual clients on the path to citizenship. According to Immigrant Justice Program Manager Brandon Fitzsimmons, tackling such a process in a single day is beneficial to everyone involved, with a higher volume of clients served in a much shorter timeframe. “We’re looking at 2 possibly 3 months of meetings, revisions, signings—everything truncated,” he says. “[Naturalization Day] is a benefit to the client and it also allows us to be more efficient with our own production.”
For those who want to begin volunteering, or who do not quite know where to start, Kathleen recommends the one-day events at the Clinic, saying, “No matter who you are, an attorney or not an attorney, they’re just a really great, engaging way to see what the Clinic is about.” These events are scheduled for a specific service, such as Refugee Adjustment Day, where staff and volunteers help refugees adjust their paperwork very quickly for the entire day. “It’s kind of like a one-and-done opportunity for them to come in and get some legal services,” Kathleen explains.
After passing various Driver Safety tests, and with the help of his attorney, Robert was able to submit a Waiver of Reinstatement Fees, which the court granted. This was followed by submitting a request for Specialized Driving Privileges. “It was a long process—it was a year long—and whatever my attorney told me to do, I did,” he says. “Six months ahead of time he told me to start an insurance policy and begin showing a pattern of making payments, although I couldn’t drive. I didn’t question it and I did it. The Prosecutor was floored over that.”
One regular donor, Malcolm Gately, first became acquainted with the work of the Clinic through his membership at Grace Church. As a Christian, he was particularly drawn to its mission. He says, “I think the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic exemplifies living out those [Christian] values about as well as any organization I’ve ever seen, as well as practically serving the most vulnerable and challenged people in our area.”
In addition to a high-caliber speaker, the event will include heavy hors d’oeuvres and a chance to socialize and network. JFA Event Chair and Board Member Jason Reese is especially excited about expanding the reach of the gala this year. “Anytime we can bring the community of believers and followers together is a good thing,” he says. “Especially where we have a high energy group who believes in social justice.”