Grand Rapids, MI (June 28, 2011) – At the annual meeting of the West Michigan Conference the United Methodist Church held earlier this month, Justice for Our Neighbors – West Michigan (JFON-WM) was awarded the Peacemaker of the Year Award. The award is presented annually by Conference Board of Church and Society (BCS) to an individual or a group that best exemplifies peacemaking in the name of Christ. Since opening its doors in 2004, JFON-WM has served over 900 clients from 60 nations and made over 100 educational presentations to church, community and university groups. A grass-root outreach ministry of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), JFON-WM welcomes immigrants into our community by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education and advocacy. JFON-WM is part of nationwide network currently at 30 clinics.
The BCS advocates for the church social issues, especially those affecting the poor and marginalized of our communities. The West Michigan Conference represents over 400 churches on the western side of the Lower Peninsula.
The Peacemaker Award was accepted by Liz Balck, JFON Regional Attorney. Other staff include Laura Rampersad who serves as Regional Coordinator; and Mary DeRidder and Sally Garrett who serve as co-coordinators for the Holland site.
JFON-WM operates monthly clinics in Grand Rapids and Holland. The JFON model uses volunteers extensively to conduct intake interviews and provide hospitality to forge the relationship between immigrant and community. Over 100 trained volunteers provide over 1200 hours of service each year.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sponsors two Justice for Our Neighbors regional sites in Michigan. JFON is a faith-driven ministry, welcoming immigrants into our communities by providing free, high quality immigration legal services, education and advocacy. JFON- West Michigan operates two clinics, one in Grand Rapids and one in Holland. JFON-Southeastern Michigan operates clinics in Dearborn and Pontiac.