For the first time, JFON NE has been awarded a grant from the national JFON. The $30,000 grant, the full amount requested, will be used to pay a portion of salary and benefits of an attorney to staff a monthly clinic to open in Worcester, MA.
The 2018 New England Annual Conference supported a resolution to designate a 2019 special offering for JFON NE with a goal of $30,000. The offering from local
churches will be presented at this year’s Annual Conference session. Contact your district office to learn more about supporting the offering or visit the JFON NE website.
Clinics in Lawrence and Lowell, MA, opened in late 2018; the attorney staffing those clinics started in February 2019 (see our story). The Worcester clinic is expected to open in late summer or early fall 2019.
The clinic will work on the same model as existing JFON clinics with an attorney from the Central West Justice Center (CWJC), which also staffs the clinic at Trinity UMC in Springfield, MA. There is a JFON NE clinic in Woburn, MA, as well.
The work in Worcester will focus on removal defense for low-income immigrants residing in Worcester County. This is a significant demand said JFON NE Chair Rev. Gary Richards. Few private attorneys will do removal cases and fewer still will do them at no charge to the client.
The attorney is paid, but the operation of each clinic relies on the support from a local church or churches and volunteers who serve as intake coordinators and provide hospitality – including a hot meal and child care. The clinics meet monthly, typically in the early evening.
“For every dollar that is donated, JFON is investing 95 to 97 cents in quality legal services,” Rev. Richards said. “JFON thrives off the connection: United Methodist Church participation, support from the community and ecumenical support.”
This newest clinic will be supported by a relatively new church: Simple Church Worcester, a dinner church led by Rev. LyAnna Johnson, will be the coordinating body.
"We are a very young church plant, and this is an incredible opportunity to help define who we are," said Rev. Johnson. "What a gift to help create sanctuary and live out our call to love our neighbors as ourselves."
Worcester is also the home of four other United Methodist congregations that are potential sources of support and volunteers. Visit the JFON NE website to contact the individual clinics and learn more about how you can volunteer.
“This is one of the best reflections I’ve seen in my ministry of the connection coming together to transform lives," said Rev. Richards. "This is truly a shared ministry.”