In 1992, Dr. Frank Kik, Senior Pastor at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, challenged the congregation to be “a force for Christ in the heart of the city.” In response to this challenge, a handful of volunteers established the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. This small but mighty team of passionate volunteers committed to use their time, talents, and treasures to provide those living in the neighborhood with access to quality legal services.
In the early years of the Clinic’s history, volunteers were the backbone of the operations. Now, 25 years later, volunteers continue to be a force for Christ and an essential legal resource for those in the community. And with so many who need assistance, volunteer opportunities abound. In fact, over the last year alone, volunteers generously contributed more than 5,100 hours to the Clinic’s clients.
Many of our clients’ journeys begin much the same way: with an intake session. This is when an attorney spends time with prospective clients, listening and learning about their legal issue. And, often, these first-meeting intakes are conducted by volunteer attorneys.
Volunteer attorneys may also take pro bono case referrals for the Clinic. They provide full representation on cases from start to finish, while volunteer interpreters help to remove language barrier issues for our immigrant clients.
Through our robust and long-standing internship program—consisting of undergraduate and law students—participants gain valuable experience as they serve the Indianapolis community. Interns help with research, casework, client meetings, and more. And through this process, they also grow, learning more about various aspects of civil legal aid.
Our volunteers take part in phone surveys, paralegal work, fundraising activities, hospitality for one-day events, the prayer team, staff appreciation events, expungement pro se preparation, data collection, educational presentations, and more. The Clinic simply could not provide legal services to the community without volunteers.
The challenge Dr. Kik delivered 25 years ago is more important than ever. It continues to inspire volunteers to serve Indiana’s most vulnerable neighbors, giving access to justice to those who would otherwise be without representation. As the Clinic’s Volunteer Coordinator, my favorite part of my job is when I see something in someone that they have not seen in themselves. Through my work, I get to help develop a person’s talents so that they can fulfill their life’s calling to be a vigorous advocate for someone else.
To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Clinic, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Kathleen Bloxsome, or visit our website.
For the month of April, we will be highlighting our amazing team of volunteers, sharing stories of their most meaningful client interactions, exploring their reasons for giving back, and learning how volunteering nourishes them in turn.