Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON)
Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) is a ministry of hospitality of the United Methodist Church that welcomes immigrants into the community by providing affordable, high-quality immigration legal services, engaging in advocacy for immigrants’ rights, and offering education to communities of faith and the public. JFON West Michigan, one of 17 immigration legal clinics nationwide, was established in 2004 in Grand Rapids, with sites in Holland (2005), Traverse City (2012), and Kalama-zoo (2015). More than 2,500 clients from 87 countries have been served.
LOCAL: Volunteers from First United Methodist Church are helping local residents become U.S. citizens through a part-nership with Intersection Ministries on Holland’s north side. After completing 10 weeks of classes at Intersection, people attend a legal clinic to complete their formal applications with the assistance of JFON attorneys from Grand Rapids and FUMC intake workers.
At the last JFON legal clinic on March 18, FUMC volunteers helped 15 clients get their applications ready to mail (along with a $670 fee per applicant) to the federal government.
Intersection will start new classes on May 17 (6:30 pm to 8 pm, for 10 weeks), followed by a JFON legal clinic on Saturday, July 15. Another set of citizenship classes will get under way at Intersection in mid-September, followed by a JFON legal clinic in mid-November.
Please consider becoming an intake worker at one of the legal clinics. You’ll get on-site training before each clinic, and lots of appreciation from those you help. Over and over, JFON volunteers and attorneys hear from clients how grateful they are for the affordable and competent help they’ve received and how much they look forward to becoming U.S. citizens. To learn more, or to volunteer, please contact Sally Garrett, Holland JFON case coordinator, at 298-2016, or Ann Weller, regional board representative, 396-2201.
West Michigan leaders, including representatives of JFON, LAUP (Latin Americans United for Progress), Lighthouse Im-migration Advocates, Intersection, Third Reformed Church, and others have discussed the need for more classes as interest in citizenship grows. LAUP began classes in April; others may begin in a Holland church in August, and a third set in Grand Haven in the fall.
STATE: In 2016, JFON West Michigan attorneys worked with 161 clients at intake clinics and 109 in refugee or citizen-ship workshops; 70 cases were ongoing. Forty-two percent of those helped were women; 35 percent, male; and 18 percent, children under age 18. The most common cases were for refugee adjustment/green cards, U.S. citizenship, and advice and counsel. In addition, children’s cases included humanitarian relief and escaping violence. Clients were from around the world, most often from North America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, followed by Central America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and South America.
Now, JFON is moving toward becoming a statewide organization in 2017, bringing together the West Michigan and South-east Michigan sites, with one governing board and centralized fundraising. The Methodist Foundation in Lansing will become the fiduciary and handle payroll, and an executive director will be hired.
How does JFON Work? Watch The Video
JFON was started by the General Board of Church and Society in 1999.
JFON is funded by various donation streams. It is important note that the Holland FUMC portion includes both FUMC Holland and Grand Rapids First UMC. FUMC Holland’s contribution to JFON comes from individual donors and one voluntary Bread Pan Offer-ng. No significant funding comes from our general operating budget. Only $125.00 per year is directed to JFON through our Outreach budget – this covers the cost of copies and printing at Holland clinics.
A break-down of JFON’s income source can be seen in the chart
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