The beginning of summer has been a time of restoration and of considering our faith here at the Clinic, starting with Executive Director Chris Purnell’s thoughts on the subject. We learned more about the important work that Fathers and Families Center is doing in Indianapolis to help improve the lives of children and families. We were introduced to the face of the Clinic, Alicia Dimas, receptionist extraordinaire, and we learned about how volunteer Audrey Mulholland has become an integral part of our Immigrant Justice Program.
Audrey’s first in-person introduction to the Clinic was through volunteering during Refugee Adjustment Day (RAD Day) in October of 2015. On that day, she witnessed dozens of immigrants and volunteer attorneys and staff working together to submit paperwork to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to help refugees apply for their Legal Permanent Residence. On that day, Audrey remembers entertaining a Congolese woman’s three children, drawing pictures together while their mother worked with an attorney. By late afternoon, the woman’s paperwork was completed and her eyes filled with tears of joy. This experience especially convinced Audrey of the Clinic’s impact. She says, “Once these clients become more than just numbers, when they become faces, become names, when they are personalities that you come to know, it really changes the game. It makes it very personal, very urgent.”
Of course, the work of a receptionist at a non-profit legal clinic can be daunting. Often, the clients who come to the front window seeking aid are embroiled in high-stakes legal issues regarding their immigration status, impending Sheriff Sales on their homes, or an expungement that would finally allow them to get a job and thus support their family. Alicia does not view her position as wholly difficult though. In fact, she says, “Everyone tells me my job is so hard and I just keep thinking, ‘This is the best job I’ve ever had.’ I love it.” When she does encounter a difficult client, or someone who is in a dire situation and who might direct that fear or frustration towards her, Alicia turns to her faith. She takes a deep breath and says a prayer for patience and for the words necessary to help the person in front of her.
One of the Center’s main programs, “Strong Fathers, Strong Families,” is a three-week intensive course where fathers are taught about parenting, child development, child support, relationships, financial literacy, job readiness, anger and conflict resolution, and communication, along with a host of other things. Dr. McLaughlin says, “We are hoping in that three weeks to really try to give them everything we can holistically to help them assess and access responsible fathering.” Many of the young men that go through the program grew up without any strong models of fatherhood and find themselves struggling to juggle the many responsibilities that being a father brings. Dr. McLaughlin says, “We realized that fathers—especially teen fathers—were not dead beat; they were dead broke.”
Backward-looking, we sit in awe of the Cross, where cataclysmic injustice was done to justify us. Forward-looking, we set our gaze on the New Heavens and the New Earth, where justice will replace suffering, where peace will replace war, where God will wipe every single tear from our eyes. Christians are people of memory—and we not only remember backwards, but we remember forwards.
The month of May was chock full of fun events, like Law Trivia Night and Jazz for Justice! We also released the second episode of our new podcast, Courting Justice (available now on iTunes), in which we discussed the special considerations one should make when assisting and working with victims of violent trauma. We look forward to the beginning of July when we’ll release episode 3!
Natives of Chad, Wowe Nahor* and his wife Nya Nahor* were persecuted for their involvement with the National Council of Chadian Recovery (CNR). Wowe was imprisoned and tortured. Upon being freed, he knew his family must flee their country. And so he applied for and was granted asylum in the United States. At the time, his two sons also received derivative asylee status. The Nahor family was finally safe.
Executive Director Chris Purnell shared some important statistics with those in attendance at Jazz for Justice. Like how 101 immigrant victims of violent crime were able to get temporary status in 2015 with the help of the Clinic. Also in 2015, the Clinic helped save 490 families from foreclosure. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that every foreclosure prevented results in $21,000 in real savings for a community. That’s $10,290,000 worth of savings for the community in just one year.
While attending Law School, Jason met and married a woman named Jill. He then went on to start his own practice with his partner, Steve Wagner. Years passed, and all the while, the money and accolades rolled in. In the eyes of the world, he was everything he was supposed to be. He was a success. But Jason found himself thinking, “This is ridiculous. I want to be more than that.”
What considerations must be made when working with victims of violent trauma? How can service providers help them feel safe and empowered? What are the potential pitfalls?
Join host Ashley Caveda as she discusses these questions, the long-reaching effects of trauma, and more with Legacy House Executive Director Michael Hurst and Victim Justice Program Immigrant Advocate Noemí Gallegos.