The Hidden Housing Crisis: A Message From Staff Attorney Chase Haller

Would it surprise you to learn that Indianapolis experiences 11,082 evictions every year, second only to New York City, a city of 8.5 million people? Every day in this city, 31.7 families are faced with the severe economic and emotional hardship that comes with an eviction.

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A Message from Director of Immigrant Services Rachel Van Tyle

Refugee. What a loaded word these days. As we celebrate “World Refugee Day” on June 20th, it feels appropriate to unpack that word a little. So let’s start with the basics: What is a refugee? 

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All In God's Timing

Although she did not initially seek out a position that corresponded with her Christian faith, Kim finds that part of her work to be especially meaningful. At the end of each intake, Dee Dee asks clients if they would like prayer, and they almost always say yes. “I’ve been here for over four years and I can think of maybe only two people that have said they don’t want prayer,” says Kim. “And when Dee Dee prays for them, that’s when they let it all go. They almost always walk out feeling better.”

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The Greatest of These Is Love

At the Clinic, we have a lot to love! Our last Justice For All Gala was our most successful ever--raising $152,440.09 thanks to all of our supporters! We also welcomed four new Board Members in the past few weeks, like Todd Fisher, Carol Hartman, John Gurchiek, and Lori Torres! And we got to participate in the Spirit & Place Festival for the first time this past fall, helping more people in our community understand the needs of ex-offenders!

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Love Your Neighbor As Yourself: A Message from Director of Legal Services Brian Dunkel

This experience with Keith, though brief, gave him visible relief from the burden of uncertainty he was facing. And my interaction with Keith is not unique. In fact, since 1994, the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic has made its services accessible to our low-income neighbors through intake sites located in neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis.

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Which Path Will You Choose?: A Message from Board Member Matthew Barr

In many ways, our community is at a crossroads when it comes to helping our neighbors and friends achieve a basic level of justice. One path leads to increased marginalization of the poor and lost opportunities for parents and children struggling to keep their homes, find jobs, avoid persecution or abuse, or reenter society. Another brighter path leads to increased access to justice, providing life-changing peace of mind and hope for those in our community who currently have none.

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Meet John Hoard, Clinic Board Chair

After becoming a lawyer, John found himself missing the active role of faith in his professional life. “Because of the separation of Church and State, the Law is very irreligious,” he says. He sought for a way to bring his faith and work closer together. Once he became acquainted with Clinic founder and then-Executive Director Abby Kuzma, John saw a chance to marry these two discrete aspects of his life. He joined the Clinic Board in 2005.

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Remain in Him: A Message from Executive Director Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

Chris Purnell

How are you feeling? If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably super-sleepy. A 2010 sleep survey analyzed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 30% of American workers are sleep-deprived. That number rockets up to 52% if you’re in the social assistance and health-care sectors.

Now, if that little trip down data-lane made you sleepy, don’t blame me. That’s your bad sleep habit rearing its ugly head.

Why are we so absurdly tired? That’s a question with a multiplicity of answers. We work the night shift. We checked a text before we went to sleep that made us antsy and perplexed. We have young kids who like to salute and then kiss the sunrise (Please, for the love of all things holy and good, go to sleep, sweet little ragamuffins.). We feel burdened at work. We watched a truly horrific-yet-beautiful episode of Game of Thrones and then entered an existential tailspin. The reasons go on.

For many of our clients at the Clinic, however, the weariness comes from being persecuted, from being dogged by very real enemies who want to destroy them. Like the two young South Sudanese men with whom I spoke last week and who now fear for their lives if they return home. They are normal eighteen-year olds. They like to play basketball, read, tell jokes—but they also have no idea where their families are, or if they’re even alive.

What struck me the most about these young men, though, was their faith. They trusted that God was walking with them each and every step of the way. They were connected to him—and they didn’t seem remotely wearied and bogged down. In fact, their delightful joi de vivre shined through with luster and vividness.

Which brings me to Jesus. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his friends that they need to remain in him, connected to him, just as a branch must remain connected to a vine in order to bear fruit (John 15:4). Apart from Jesus, we cannot do anything—we get lost, feel hopeless, and get knocked off center. With Jesus, life begins to make sense—our purpose returns, our weak knees are strengthened, and life regains its center.  

Try this on for size. In his book An Unhurried Leader, Alan Fadling writes that we should take our to-do lists and write “with God” next to each item. “Go grocery shopping—with God.” “Talk to Bill about how he can’t microwave his broccoli and onion casserole in the public kitchen anymore—with God.” “Listen to your friend talk about her failing marriage—with God.” “Fill out your timesheets—with God.” This is one way to stay connected to the true vine, the vine who makes all of our endeavors, however grand or quotidian, become reality.

May you, as you face burdens at home, at work, and in your relationships, stay connected to Jesus. May you, tired and weary one, find the joy and beauty of life again as you do all that you have on your list—with God.

Until justice and peace embrace,

 

Chris

Abide - July

How Do We Love Thee? Let Us Count the Ways!

Happy Valentine's Day from Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic! This February, we're remembering all the reasons we love the Clinic, the work we do, our clients, volunteers, and supporters like YOU. Please enjoy this small sampling of why we're brimming over with love this Valentine's Day! And remember, just like it says in 1 John 4:19, "We love because He first loved us."

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Double Your Dollar: Wagner Reese Matching Gift

Here at the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, our staff is in full swing of holiday cheer. From Christmas lights to sugar cookies to Secret Santa, this season is bringing us feelings of joy and hope. As if all that weren’t enough, one local law firm, Wagner Reese, has decided to match up to $10,000 in donations made by law firms, their staff members, and attorneys from now until Christmas! Thanks to Board member Jason Reese and his partner Stephen Wagner, every time a member of the legal community donates a dollar to the Clinic, Wagner Reese will also donate one dollar.

This isn’t the first time that Wagner Reese has helped the Clinic fulfill our mission—they have been generous supporters of the Clinic for the last three years.  We can’t thank them enough for their support, which has taken the form of volunteer service, in-kind donations, and financial gifts.  They have shown that they understand the importance of giving everyone, regardless of their income, access to justice.  If you work at a law firm, you have seen the powerful difference justice can make in someone’s life.

Of course, helping people overcome legal problems doesn’t just give them access to justice—it gives them hope for the future.  Clients who aren’t overwhelmed by the idea of navigating the legal system alone can begin to envision a future where they have less stress and are able to focus on providing for their families.  What better thing to share with someone during the Christmas season?

Would you consider making a donation to the Clinic this year to give families hope? Remember, your donation can go twice as far this year thanks to the generosity of our friends at Wagner Reese!  When you give, be sure to let us know that your gift qualifies for the match.  You can include a short note with your check, designate your online gift “in honor of” Wagner Reese, or email Development Coordinator Maggie Johnson (mjohnson@nclegalclinic.org) to let us know!