Lawrence and Lowell Clinics
Legal Activity During May and June
Attorneys from Northeast Justice Center for the Lawrence and Lowell JFON clinics continued in May and June to see a variety of clients including Special Immigrant Juveniles (unaccompanied minors). We saw 9 new clients in May and 10 in June. According to Pastor Joseph Wilson from Centralville UMC, site of the Lowell Clinic, many clients leave the clinic very happy even those who do not have a case. The clients are getting good advice from the Justice Center attorneys.
The attorneys currently have
13 SIJ cases which are handled primarily by Ana Otero, pictured in the photo to the right. They have accepted a total of 19 cases, ranging from SIJ Petitions to assisting battered women stabilize their legal status. Working through the court system takes time so we expect to hear more about these cases in the fall.
Celebrating the Past Year!
As we think about the past year, we are amazed at how the members of various congregations and community groups have come together to open and support two JFON clinics in Lawrence and Lowell. It was last June that we had our first area luncheon to announce the funding and commitment from the New England Justice For Our Neighbors Board. In this relatively short period of time, we have found volunteers to provide hospitality, interpretation, and intake and provided hospitality and legal consultation to over 50 immigrants from Guatemala, Malawi, Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon, and El Salvador.
Some immigrants are newly arrived and others have been in the U.S. for several years. Our attorneys are able to provide representation for about ⅓ of the cases that we see. Some clients simply do not have a legal case and are advised of this information; others have very difficult asylum cases that we are not able to commit to at the present time.
Sustainability Into 2020
The total budget for operating the Lawrence and Lowell clinics in 2020 will be $51,500. This is primarily the cost of the contract with the Northeast Justice Center. We keep costs low by using volunteers from various churches and community groups.
The photo to the right is
a group of volunteers enjoying food and fellowship. We are not sharing photos of immigrants so as to protect their privacy. We are trying to raise half of the total budget locally. The other half we hope will come from matching funds at the Conference and National level of JFON.
Gary Richards, president of JFON New England was happy to accept a check from the New England
Annual Conference for over $31,000. This is the combined total of what has been donated to JFON from UM churches in New England over the past year. The total offering was just over $31,000 but there are four existing clinics and a fifth one in the planning stages for Worcester that will share these funds.
We know that about $7,500 specifically targeted for Lawrence and Lowell was received between July 1 of last year and May of this year. Please consider supporting all of our churches in their fundraising efforts by attending different events. We know that a spaghetti dinner was held at the UCC in Bedford and a Chocolate Lover’s night at West Chelmsford. Please see below for more opportunities to support these the Lawrence and Lowell clinics.
Aldersgate UMC has announced a Chilli Cookoff planned for September 21 at 242 Boston Rd. Chelmsford. I know that they have some great chefs and I look forward to tasting the various chili recipes that will be prepared. Look for more information in coming newsletters.
Dinner and Auction
Plans are underway for our regional fund-raising event on Nov. 9. Please mark your calendars! North Boston Korean UMC has graciously invited us to their fellowship hall at 244 Lowell St. in Andover, MA. Our goal for this event is to raise $5,000, about 20% of our overall goal to be able to continue to offer these clinics in the coming year.
We are looking for people willing to help with the organizing of this event. Perhaps you or someone else from your congregation could offer advise on the dinner component. Maybe you have a great chef who could help with planning and preparing part of the meal.
Also, we are looking for people with skills in organizing or soliciting items for an auction. Items donated in the past include artwork, slightly used furniture, services such as preparing a meal or making pies for a Thanksgiving meal, and time at someone’s summer home, condo, or time share. If you have time or talents that you’re willing to share, please be in touch with Sharon Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.