Alexis Bullock found the Clinic through Career Services at Franklin College, where she’ll enter her senior year in the fall. “I love the intersection of nonprofit work with legal services,” she says. This summer, she’ll be assisting Project GRACE and loves having the chance to connect the work she wants to do with her faith. “There’s so much more that the Clinic does for this community that I didn’t even know about and I’m really excited to help,” she says.
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.
Serious crimes and convictions only make up 15% to 20% of the approximately 45,000 charges filed every year. Therefore, for the MCPO, protecting the public means dealing with lesser crimes in a more innovative way. “The idea is if you can address those problems of criminogenic needs then perhaps you can get them back on a straight path. You can’t just address the drug problem; you can’t just address the alcohol problem; you can’t just address the mental health needs,” Andrew says. “You’ve also got to work with different groups and agencies so that you can help them find a better place to live, get a job—which is not just a job, it’s something that’s more career oriented for them. Try to help them keep their families together.”
November was busy for all, but despite everything going on, the Clinic staff had multiple opportunities to stop and give thanks for our many, many blessings! This month, we celebrated our amazing volunteers with two different Volunteer Appreciation Luncheons, catered by Panera, and with a fun photo booth for lasting memories! And we highlighted one of our most committed volunteers and Board Member Fatima Johnson in a recent post.
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.
This October was a huge month for the Clinic, with our Justice for All Gala and its main speaker, Bob Goff, kicking things off! We celebrated our amazing clients, as well as all of our incredible supporters! If you were unable to attend, you can watch the video we premiered during the event featuring three of our clients here.
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.”
Carlton says, “It used to be, back in the past—1800s, 1700s—people committed crimes because there was something inherently flawed in them—that was the thought. And that’s still the mindset: you are a deviant because that is what you are.” Carlton is quick to point out, however, that most of the people he sees made a mistake when they were young. And yet a crime committed 20 years earlier might prevent them from finding sufficient employment even into their middle age. “If you don’t have a job, you’re not making any money. Not making any money, you can’t pay your child support. Can’t pay your child support, you can’t have your license … so your livelihood just goes, ‘Boom!’” Carlton makes an exploding gesture with his hands. “You can’t pay your bills, and then you’re in a position where bankruptcy is an option.”
Latosha was then faced with the dilemma of needing to find another job, but with something on her criminal record from much earlier, she was worried about her chances of getting hired elsewhere. Over the years, she’d never even tried. She explains, “I’ve kind of been stuck at the same job for like 16 years, but I always stayed there because of my background. I didn’t think I could go nowhere else.”