Audrey Mulholland’s start at the Clinic was different than most. After finishing work in India with International Justice Mission, she came to Indianapolis and found herself between jobs. She decided she wanted to spend some time volunteering while she applied to Law School. Everyday on the news, she was inundated with images of immigrants fleeing from the Middle East. She says, “My heart really broke for these refugees who don’t have a choice, and who are escaping a very dangerous situation trying to protect their families.” Her own experience in India made the news even more poignant. “I knew what it felt like to feel like an outsider in a country where I didn’t know the language.” And so she Googled “non-profit” and “refugee” and “Indianapolis” and the top hit she got back was “Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.”
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.”
Since that day, Audrey has become a valued volunteer at the Clinic and her responsibilities have increased. She works closely with Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Bloxsome and Immigrant Justice Program Manager Brandon Fitzsimmons. About five times a year, the Clinic has large “Clinic Days” where upwards of 50 clients come and meet with attorneys to complete necessary applications. Much of preparing for one of these days includes arranging logistics, including contacting volunteers to help assist, getting in touch with community partners to find clients who need assistance, contacting those potential clients, and, on the day of the event, helping to make sure clients know where to go and ensuring they can get there. “It’s a lot of leg work up front because there are just so many moving pieces,” she says. “Almost the whole month before an event my role is preparing for that event.”
Audrey will be leaving Indianapolis soon to go to Law School in Washington, D.C., but in the meantime, she continues her work. The hardest thing for Audrey is that there are always more people who need help, but she knows it is impossible to serve everyone. Ultimately, she finds solace in her faith. She says, “[I have the privilege to] assist God in His work of justice, but at the end of the day it’s His work of justice.” And, for the time, she has found her place in that work through the Legal Clinic. She says, “These Clinic Days can be a day of refuge for a lot of our clients, a day where they are treated with kindness and respect and with dignity.” She urges everyone “to not be afraid of new faces and new people, but to really get to know them and find out who they are as people instead of as numbers or as countries, because they are so much more.”
To learn more about volunteering for the Clinic, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Bloxsome at firstname.lastname@example.org.