Bible verses like, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and “I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” provide Jack with clear guidance about what he is supposed to do. “These aren’t just nice words, but are rules of conduct,” he explains.Read more
Volunteer Attorney Fatima Skimin understands the experiences of the immigrants she serves through the Clinic. Born in Casablanca, Morocco, as a girl, she received a French education, and later attended Law School in Montpellier, France. In the mid 1990s, however, Fatima chose to come to the U.S. as an international student.Read more
After studying in Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries for several years, Katie Bailey returned to Indiana knowing one thing: She wanted to meet and support her immigrant neighbors living in the Indianapolis community. With prior experience translating and interpreting for legal issues through an internship, Katie sought out an organization to utilize her many skills. Soon, she began to volunteer for Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.Read more
Waiting with the others in court that morning, Phil was fascinated by the eclectic mix of people and their reasons for being there. Everyone had a story. There were those who were divorced, wanting to rid themselves of the name they had taken on as a newlywed. There were children who were being adopted, now bestowed with new names to match their new family. Phil marveled at the ceremony and power as the judge declared for each person, “You will forever be known as—” before christening them anew. “It felt like a religious moment,” Phil says to me now.Read more
Every Wednesday morning at our main office, new potential clients have an opportunity to speak to an attorney about a pressing immigration or tax issue. While they sit in the waiting room, if they choose, they can fill out a prayer request card, which is then given to our volunteer prayer team. This team is currently comprised of two people: April Ervin and Grant Sellers.Read more
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.”Read more
“One of the biggest successes of spiritual direction is helping people interpret their past, their present, and their future through the lens of God’s loving gaze. And that’s not easy,” says Peggy. “But for those who are open to it, I think it can bring a sense of not being alone in their life.”Read more
In 1994, the Legal Clinic finally opened its doors to the public, but it was slow going at the start. “I don’t know how many people we helped that first year,” Lynn says, “But you probably wouldn’t have to take off your shoes to count them.” Since that time, the Clinic has expanded to serve more than 10,000 low-income people annually, with over 35 staff members, a satellite office in Ft. Wayne, numerous intake sites around the city of Indianapolis, and a team of committed volunteers.Read more
Tim Fox is the polar opposite of the lawyer found in stereotypical jokes. Far from being greedy or stingy with his time and knowledge, as a volunteer for Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, he regularly stretches the bounds of what it means to give freely of oneself. When unavoidable hiccups in the system threaten to shut down an intake on a particular day or when time is critical for a certain client, Tim simply improvises.Read more
On Wednesday mornings, clients at the Clinic can fill out a small form if they would like prayer. At times, the language barrier complicates things, but Christine trusts the Holy Spirit to guide her. For one woman in particular, Christine felt a powerful need for safety, and so she prayed for a hedge of protection. She then learned more of the woman’s story, which included sexual abuse, drug trafficking, and much danger. Christine says Kathleen told her, “This is not an atypical story.”Read more
Lacy Panyard knew from the time she was a little girl that she wanted to be an attorney. But it was a study abroad trip to Mexico with her school at the age of 17 that helped determine her specialty. She says, “While I was down there, I saw people who were wealthy and who have everything they need. They’re living better than us. And then I saw the people who are 5-year-olds, out on the street, selling gum and homemade goods because they don’t have food on the table.”Read more
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.”Read more
Despite his positivity, Art is no stranger to hardship. Last year, he successfully underwent treatment for prostate cancer. Recently, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. But he maintains an attitude of gratefulness. He says, “If I look at God’s grace, I have it in orders of magnitude.” He counts off his blessings: his career, getting to go to Law School, and, most of all, his wife, Penny. “No matter what happens, I’m blessed,” he says. “The Parkinson’s thing? That’s God’s will. He knew this was coming before I was born. And it’s just part of the deal.”Read more
Personally, Darrell finds fulfillment in bankruptcy law because he knows the need is so great. He says, “Freedom from debt is very, very important. The burden of living with debt and the harassment, the garnishments, the creditor calls, and not being able to pay your bills have a significant effect on a person’s mental and physical well-being. And a debt-laden marriage can oftentimes end in divorce because financial pressure is a significant reason for dissolution. So I think that when you file bankruptcy sometimes it really releases you and gives you some financial freedom and a fresh start from your mistakes.” By consistently taking on these cases, Darrell is able to act as a conduit, connecting his clients to this kind of freedom.Read more
Becoming friends with the parents of her children’s friends emphasized the blessings afforded her simply by being born in this country. “There but for the grace of God go I,” she says. “I didn’t do anything to deserve this. I just happened to be born in a family that happened to be here [in America].”Read more
We can all be Connectors by translating who and what we know to assist our communities. At the Legal Clinic, that might mean helping clients collect their documents, bridging the gap between the pro bono housing counselor and the client who is facing foreclosure. Or it might mean helping someone who was recently laid off apply for food stamps. As a Connector, you can ensure that those in our community are able to find and utilize the many resources that may be available, but impossible for them to reach without your helping hand.Read more
It is easy to understand how and why other people hurt—at least when they’re in your office, crumpled tissues in hand, the empathy flows. But sympathy and empathy alone can leave you in the realm of pitying people. And we have not been called to pity people. Our call is to "(a)dminister true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another” (Zechariah 7:9).Read more
“The Clinic helped me realize the variety of ways there are to worship. It made me see that I didn’t have to separate the professional part of my life from…my faith and that they could enrich each other.” These two seemingly incompatible pursuits were now clearly working most effectively and edifyingly in tandem.Read more
I am pleased to introduce to you, Megan Lewis, outstanding volunteer at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. Megan has a long history with the Clinic starting out as a VISTA Summer Intern in 2010 working in Consumer Justice and Housing. In the fall of 2010 Megan continued in her volunteerism as a law student conducting intakes at the Blue Triangle, a local veteran domiciliary which provides housing for homeless veterans. Once licensed to practice law Megan, began taking pro bono case referrals from the Clinic. She currently serves as a program volunteer attorney with the Clinic’s partnership with the Hoosier Veteran Assistance Foundation (HVAF) of Indiana which seeks to meet the civil legal needs of homeless veterans.
Megan is from Yorktown Indiana and she joined the Indiana Army National Guard a few weeks before she graduated from high school. Over the next few years Megan attended college at Indiana University in Bloomington and had various commitments to the Guard while in school. In 2005 Megan’s unit deployed to Iraq where she served for twelve months. When Megan returned in 2006, she completed her undergraduate degree and in 2009 she attended law school at Indiana University School of Law.
When asked what motivates her to volunteer at the Clinic she responded, “I have a passion for pro bono work and for supporting organizations that provide legal services to those who cannot afford it. My primary goal is to serve veterans. When I returned from Iraq, I had a very hard time reintegrating into civilian life and college…. The Clinic allows me to use the skills I developed as an attorney to help other veterans and those in the Indianapolis area that need assistance. My hope is that those I assist will use their talents to help others as well.”
Megan met her husband Evan in her Guard unit and they currently live in Fishers with their three cats, Bob, Mo and Sonny (see hilarious picture). The two just recently celebrated their tenth anniversary. Way to go you two!
Megan has been a major asset to the Clinic as a law student and as a family law attorney assisting homeless veterans. Having felt the direct effects of war as a soldier, Megan knows too well the suffering of those who have fought for our country and have returned changed, wounded, scarred. It is her goal in working as a volunteer for the Clinic to help alleviate the legal struggles veterans face upon returning.
Megan states, “It’s an unfortunate fact that some may never have the financial resources to obtain help for their legal issues. The Clinic helps those people.” This is why Megan continues to volunteer and give of her time to the Clinic and its mission. When asked what Social Justice means to her she states, “Access to free justice.”
Megan, thank you for your heart of courage, service and compassion. This community needs more people who share your passion for those in need and we thank you for sharing your gifts with the Clinic.