Free legal advice offered at Fox Valley Church

 
Updated 2/11/2011 9:05 AM

Administer Justice, a nationally recognized local organization offering free legal and financial services for low-income families, has opened a morning clinic on the third Saturday of each month at Fox Valley Church, 37W073 Huntley Road, West Dundee. Attorneys will be on hand to answer legal questions and make referrals.

What kinds of questions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Family is the No. 1 area we see, followed closely by housing," said Executive Director Bruce Strom.

Having established Administer Justice as a sideline in 2000, Strom abandoned his successful law practice eight years ago to give the nonprofit program his full attention.

Issues of child support, spousal victimization and guardianship of children or older adults are among the family issues that come through the door. Foreclosures, identity theft, tax scams and other types of fraud are also all-too-common scenarios.

"Every day, somebody comes in who's really got serious challenges," Strom said.

He tells of one client who first made an appointment near the end of foreclosure proceedings on his house. A reduction of hours at work had left him unable to keep up with his mortgage, and as a foreign-born homeowner, he was unable to understand the foreclosure documents.

"It turned out when our housing attorney looked through the paperwork, it was not the bank that was suing him that held the note on the house," Strom said.

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More than 200 attorneys volunteer with Administer Justice, which is financially supported by more than 80 churches. Lawyers coach clients on how to protect themselves in matters of law and how to represent themselves in court, if possible; where professional representation is needed, it's provided pro bono. Other programs include tax assistance, mediation, seminars on financial and legal topics, and prayer support.

To qualify for assistance, clients must earn less than 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which equates to $55,000 or less for a family of four.

The third Saturday sessions are in addition to first Saturday clinics at the organization's main office, 1750 Grandstand Place, Elgin, and second Saturdays at Wheaton Bible Church in West Chicago. Hours are 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at all locations. Administer Justice relies on volunteers of all kinds, not just lawyers. For more information about the free clinics or volunteering, call (847) 844-1100 or visit administerjustice.org.

A visit to the Holy Land: The Revs. John and Faye Buttrick, Peoria residents who spent three months last year living as "ecumenical accompaniers" in Palestinian communities, will present "Life in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, 2010" at Congregational Church of Algonquin, 109 Washington St., around noon on Sunday, Feb. 13. The talk follows a light lunch at 11:15 a.m., which follows morning services. All activities are free to the public.

Teams of ecumenical accompaniers provide protection and advocacy by their very presence in the West Bank and other Palestinian communities. The Buttricks will give a firsthand perspective on what daily life in this conflicted area is really like.

• "In the Spirit" covers houses of worship in the Fox Valley area; contact cmchojnacki@yahoo.com to submit information or ideas for upcoming columns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

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