Let’s call people, people.

Hello kind humans,

This is our first post about our very first kind human and first charity to receive donation. Who’s excited? Ok, we are too but settle down and let’s get focussed. This first quarter let’s focus on fair and equal representation under the law. It’s easy to agree that we all deserve this human right but for many people facing immigration and legalization issues the barriers to aid are to high and the costs of services too steep. Enter Justice for Our Neighbors (or JFON to their friends) who have as their mission to provide free legal services to all people in need no matter their background or current situation.

Did you notice I said, “people” in need? That’s because throughout the initial conversations we shared with JFON’s West Michigan Site Director, Raquel Owens, she made a point of calling the clients they serve “people” rather than any other descriptor. If ever she slipped up and started to say the words ‘refugee’ or ‘immigrant’, she’d quickly correct herself by saying, “these are people first” and “these people are more than the labels placed on them by others”. Raquel is our Kind Human of the quarter, not just because of her position at JFON but also, because she is helping to position this invaluable service to a community of thousands in need locally and hundreds of thousands being served by the 18 branches of JFON around the country.

Find more information about JFON, their mission and a direct link to donation here.

We sat down with Raquel and she told us the story of how she came to work with JFON. We wanted to know how she got personally connected to this cause and what it means to her. We learned that Raquel has been a kind human a lot longer than her term as Site Director here.

Back in 2011, Raquel needed a fresh outlook so she decided to travel and volunteer with friends. What she discovered on this trip changed her permanently. She went to help at the Bamboo School, providing aid to refugees near the Thai, Burma border. While serving the people there she was struck by the great need for refugee aid not just in that area, but also globally.

When Raquel got back to the states she researched ways she could be of help in her own community. What she learned is pretty incredible. Raquel tells us that West Michigan has a history of hospitality and aid for refugees and that 350 to 450 people are welcomed to the West Michigan area each year. Many of these people arrive with only a few contacts and no determinant source of income. In most cases they’re fleeing harm and hardship. As Raquel reminds us, these are people, humans, lives in need of care and comfort.

When a family friend needed legal services related their citizenship, Raquel did further research and connected with Justice for Our Neighbors. She learned about JFON’s mission and of the solid work they were doing and she was impressed. When she became more engaged in the work through volunteering it seemed only right that she step into a more permanent role to bolster the valuable service they provide.

In 2016 Raquel joined JFON as West Michigan Site Director. At the regional branches of JFON, Raquel and her staff work to guide people in need of support through a complex US legal systems to become American citizens. She leads an accomplished staff of layers, legal aids and volunteers in providing remarkably impactful services. As she puts it, “The impact we have on families and in their lives is truly life changing but it can also be life saving”.

Raquel asked us to imagine what it must feel like to have no community, little to no income and no ability to travel or return if visa or citizenship status is in question. The phrase we heard them use often is “in the shadows”. It’s a good visual illustration of people who feel the need to hide in fear of legal retribution. When proper legal services are provided to these populations in need everyone benefits. When we support JFON we can help bring people in need out of the shadows.

When Humans Kind supports the work and mission of JFON because we know that no matter who is responsible for keeping people apart from their loved ones the resolution of each unique case must be hard won in a legal, human-centered and ethical way. That’s why we created the new “Keep Us Together” design, because there is no truer statement. Love will keep us… our families and friends, citizens and those in need of citizenship, together. The love demonstrated by JFON toward those most in need is evidenced by the many success they’ve celebrated. In bringing families together and in bringing a sense of home and belonging to the displaced and disenfranchised, they pattern a kindness that’s undeniable.

Now is your moment to support this cause. We’ve made it easy for you.

Just, *click, buy, kind!

Here’s a link to the collection we’ve designed for JFON. Don’t forget, all the products you buy on When Humans Kind through January 1st of 2019 will benefit JFON. So gift your friend a t’shirt, buy your dad a mug and don’t forget to get yourself something nice.

Are you ready to kind?

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