This April, we explored the idea of Abundant Wisdom, with Chris providing our introduction at the beginning of the month. We then took an especially close look at how wisdom applies to financial matters. We learned more about our Building Wealth program and about what to do if you get an examination letter back from the IRS. We also met a woman who was given a second chance thanks to the hard work of Project GRACE.
Over the years, things started looking up for Debra and she was eventually able to turn her life around. She found a job. She got married and then had two children, leaving her old life decades behind her. In fact, when she came to our office seeking assistance with sealing her criminal record, Project GRACE staff attorney, Carlton Martin, says, “She had not committed a crime in almost 20 years.”
Looking for a fun way to get your family involved in helping the community? Head out to Broad Ripple Ice Cream Station on Thursday, April 21st to support the Clinic! BRICS has generously agreed to donate 10% of each sale on that day so that more of your low-income neighbors can have access to justice. There’s nothing better than ice cream and social justice! We hope to see you there! In the meantime, whet your appetite by perusing their menu.
When someone faces an issue with the IRS, Dee Dee says, “The first thing we have to do is get them in filing compliance so they can access some of the programs that the IRS has to deal with what you owe.” Ultimately, the cost of not resolving these issues can be very high. “Sometimes we’ve found out when someone owed and then didn’t file for years, it was actually erroneous and by not filing they didn’t get refunds that they could have gotten.”
Ultimately, Lisa was surprised by how much she learned, although originally she was hesitant to participate in the Building Wealth program. She says, “I felt like I had a lot of advantages that I had squandered and here I am in this situation.” She admits to feeling ashamed of needing help in the first place, but acknowledges her delays in seeking assistance only made her financial recovery that much harder. “The sooner you realize you are about to go off that cliff, you should pick up the phone and call. If you think it’s hard now, it does get worse,” she says. “If you can head it off at the pass, it makes it easier.”
What we fear determines what we worship—worship being what we actually do with our thoughts and emotions and body. If I fear being alone, I will do everything in my power to make sure I have companionship. If I fear not having enough money, I will do whatever it takes to make sure I get and keep all that I can. If I fear what people think of me, then I will do whatever it takes to manage my image. We are fearful-beings; we will fear something. The Bible simply tells us to fear God, the only Being worthy of our fear.
March was an extremely busy for the Clinic! We were blessed with the chance to compete in Brackets For Good again, and because of our amazing supporters, we were able to raise nearly $20,000 in just two weeks for free legal services for our low-income neighbors! Additionally, we learned more about the importance of donations and how the Clinic seeks and utilizes these very necessary funds.
For this reason, one of the things that Crystal most cherishes about her position is the opportunity to minister to those who are in crisis. “It’s a very interesting dynamic working at the Clinic,” she says. “Having the liberty to share my faith…is just a lot different than what it had been in corporate America.” She loves being able to pray for those who want prayer. And when there is relief to be had for one of her clients, the joy is immense. But even when there are no remedies, apart from letting the home go, there are still positives. She says, “I’m honest with the client. I tell them, ‘I’m here to have a real conversation with you.’ It’s not about sugar-coating it.” And sometimes, these honest, yet difficult conversations are the most important thing Crystal can give to a client.
A pivotal element of HYJP is the Program Manager, Ben Hayes. Unlike the two attorneys who work cases for Outreach’s youth, Ben’s position is more nebulous. His job is to build relationships and to create a bridge between their kids and our attorneys. Most of the youth that go through Outreach know what it’s like to be burned by someone they were supposed to be able to trust—in fact, that is usually an inciting incident to them becoming homeless in the first place. “Every one of them is going to have a different story,” Ben says. The one thing they all have in common though? Trauma. According to a series of internal surveys conducted by Outreach in 2014, 71% of their young woman said they were sexually abused before the age of 18 and 88% of their young men saw their mother beaten before the age of 18.
A recent shift in donors has been especially encouraging to the Engagement Team. Maggie says, “2014 was the first year that we really had a surge in first-time donors who used to be clients … Now that they’re not clients anymore, they want to give back to people who are in their positions, which has been incredibly moving for us. We have clients sending in one dollar or five dollars—just whatever they can spare.”