The second Immigrant Hope center is now open in Clifton, NJ. They saw their first client on Friday, Feb 28th. This is particularly exciting for us because it is the first tangible affirmation that Immigrant Hope is a program that can be replicated in multiple locations. The first center, in Brooklyn, NY, was able to open thanks to the joint, focused efforts (and funds) of the EFCA national office, the EFCA Eastern District, First EFC in Brooklyn, and several national and district missionaries. IH-Clifton was launched by Grace Church in Clifton, church staff members Howard and Claudia Williams, and team members from other area churches. They raised up their own staff, funding, and supplies. Not to say they were on an island – the legal staff was trained at IH-Brooklyn. Roy Larsen (on the Eastern District staff) is on their staff team, and Ben Johnson provided training, guidance, and support. But all of this is part of what we hope will be the normal infrastructure for Immigrant Hope moving forward. In all of the important ways, Immigrant Hope – Clifton was created by the local church and staff with support from national and district, rather than the other way around.
Grace Church in Clifton has close Free Church ties. Pastor Steve Galegor is ordained in the EFC. He was a missionary in Albania and his sending church was an EFC. He also leads a church plant among Albanians and they meet at First EFC in Brooklyn. Howard and Claudia Williams were workers with Christar in Turkey and they have taken the training to do immigration work. The staff is rounded out by Susan Friedel who is a bankruptcy lawyer attending our EFC in Lincroft, NJ. She was touched by the vision of Immigrant Hope and is learning immigration law so she can give legal help at the office.
Grace Church also has a long history of a thriving ESL ministry and Claire Monroe, the director, formerly attended our EFC in Jersey City.
Is there a need for immigration services in Clifton? To answer that just consider that over 85 languages are spoken in the homes of Clifton public school children! And there are 5 different ethnicities (Albanian, English, Korean, Spanish and Portuguese) that hold services at the church.
So, we celebrate with IH-Clifton as they open their doors, both for the powerful impact that they will have on their community and as an example of what we have been working to accomplish. If your church is in North Jersey, feel free to refer people to that office for a consultation. Call 973-928-4103 to set up an appointment. Consultations are $30 and the costs for services are very reasonable.
And … consider volunteering! There are lots of things that your church members can do to help. E-mail Roy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.