Every day, committed and first-time donors alike choose to give their generous financial support to the Legal Clinic, providing our low-income neighbors with desperately needed pro bono legal services. Often, they come to support the Clinic based on a personal relationship with our staff or Board. This was no different for Nick Carter and his wife Kendra, whose monthly contribution was borne out of their friendship with Executive Director Chris Purnell.
Members of the same church, Nick and Chris began to meet regularly for Bible study and coffee back in 2009. Through that close relationship, Nick’s eyes were opened to the great need in our city. “I never really was aware of the legal inequities that our society heaps on the poor, and how difficult it is for many people to navigate a complex legal system that should be protecting them,” he says. “Through getting to know Chris, praying with him, and seeing his passion for serving this community, it began to resonate with me.”
Very soon, Nick became aware of an enormous gap in services. Those charged with crimes are given public defenders to assist them with their case, but there is no reciprocal response for those outside of the criminal justice system. “If you’re an abuse victim, or being mistreated by a negligent landlord, or being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people…then I think it’s just as important to have that advocate to get the most just outcome under the law,” Nick says. “The Clinic is that advocate, just as Christ is our advocate in the court of God.”
Another donor, Sharon Willen, actually came to know the Clinic through United Way’s Directed Giving option. A retired teacher and school librarian, Sharon has always given generously to her church’s missions, but she started to feel something was missing. “Several years ago I felt God was prodding me to diversify my giving,” she says. “My church’s missions focused on causes in other countries. I was also concerned about local Christian missions and agencies that needed financial support.” And so, in addition to her church, Sharon began to support the work of Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic on a monthly basis.
Both Sharon and Nick are motivated by the genuine impact they know they are having on the lives of real people. Sharon says, “Donating has made me feel I have a part in helping people right here in Indiana. I especially appreciate the assistance the Clinic provides to immigrants.” In Nick’s case, a specific moment stands out in his mind. He recalls when Chris shared a story with him about a woman who was in this country because she was a victim of sex trafficking. “In serving her needs, Chris had been able to speak for someone who, socially speaking, felt that she had no voice,” Nick says.
After changing the client’s name to protect her privacy, Chris shared a letter he wrote to this woman after she was granted asylum in the United States. In it, he refuted the lies her traffickers told her, reminding her that she has a place in the household of Christ. “I will never forget that letter because that’s when I realized the powerful impact that fighting for justice can have on someone’s life,” Nick says. “Once you hear one story of a life changed through the Clinic’s services, you will wish you could give even more.”