Jim Foltz’s father owned a bakery where Jim mopped floors and washed dishes after school when he was just a boy. Down the road lived a prominent, local attorney who was friends with his father and grandfather. Over the years, Jim observed this man’s work, and he dreamed of one day becoming an attorney as well. “I thought that I could mediate and help people reach a fair and agreeable solution when they had difficulties,” he says. “That was my main motivation for becoming an attorney.”
And so, following this desire, Jim began his legal career in 1985, starting with a small firm in Northeast Indiana. Over the years, he worked at various places, including a bank, but he says eventually the Lord led him to start his own income tax practice. Through this practice, Jim’s work naturally led him into estate planning for aging neighbors and grandparents.
Then, back in 2010 or 2011, Jim felt the call to use his skills at a Christian legal aid organization. He started his investigation quite simply: with Google. At the top of his search results was Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and it was clear they were in need of volunteer attorneys. Jim was connected with our Volunteer Coordinator, and subsequently with our Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) and its longtime Director Dee Dee Gowan.
Soon, Jim discovered that much of the work in the LITC involved helping people sort out back tax returns. At the beginning, he was somewhat hesitant because he was accustomed to doing more legal work with estate planning. Fortunately, he received ample support from the LITC staff. “Dee Dee graciously put up with some of my early stumbling because I didn’t do everything right at first for sure,” says Jim. “I learned a tremendous amount from her.”
But, for Jim, the transition into such volunteer work involved more than just becoming accustomed to specific forms or processes. He found he also had to shift his perspective. “I’ll never forget when Dee Dee told me, ‘Just love them. Just listen to them and love them,’” says Jim. Before working at the Clinic, he harbored a desire to rush in and to try to fix all of his clients’ problems, but he soon realized the difficulties they faced were often more complicated and nuanced than he could even begin to imagine. It wasn’t his job to save them. “People are often overwhelmed and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes,” he says. “I can just try to love them and help them with their legal issues.”
Since those early days, Jim has grown close to many of the people he has helped and he is often inspired by the strength they exhibit. “Jesus gave us gifts to be shared,” he says. “And those who volunteer at the Clinic will be blessed just as much as the people they are serving.”
To learn more about becoming a volunteer for the Clinic, please visit our website, or contact our Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Bloxsome at email@example.com.