Emily loved teaching at Exodus Refugee, but in January things changed rapidly. “A week after the inauguration, the first Executive Order happened, and that’s when the ball started rolling,” she says, “We realized we were losing funding; we were losing clients in general, and we were going to be losing staff as well.” Exodus was forced to downsize drastically, and Emily lost her job in the shuffle.
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.
On Wednesday mornings, clients at the Clinic can fill out a small form if they would like prayer. At times, the language barrier complicates things, but Christine trusts the Holy Spirit to guide her. For one woman in particular, Christine felt a powerful need for safety, and so she prayed for a hedge of protection. She then learned more of the woman’s story, which included sexual abuse, drug trafficking, and much danger. Christine says Kathleen told her, “This is not an atypical story.”
Upon serving as an intake attorney at John Knox Presbyterian Church back in 2006, Matthew first became aware of the need for free legal services. “I thought I was aware of it, but I really wasn’t,” he says. “Until you sit down with people who need the help, who explain their situation, who have never really been able to talk to someone who they believe can help them, and suddenly you’re sitting down in a room with them one-on-one… That’s when you realize the need that exists and the good that can come from just giving a little bit of time.”
From the age of 11, Sha’na knew she wanted to be an attorney. “I watched a movie called Separate but Equal with Thurgood Marshall and documenting the whole Brown vs. Board of Education decision,” she says. “That was the first time I realized how much influence and power attorneys had to make change, and so I knew I wanted to be a part of that.” For years, Sha’na worked towards that goal, graduating from college and then Law School—ultimately passing the bar examination earlier this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”