Celebrating Latin American Heritage: The mighty 5 and the Latina field support coordinator at CLINIC who helped them obtain DOJ accreditation

It has been years since Rev. Susan Brouillette, with the Lafayette Urban Ministry, and her mom visited CLINIC’s National Office and spent hours speaking with Capacity Building Director Jeff Chenoweth about a new initiative for the Indiana community: a legal services program to serve their growing immigrant population.

Seven years later, the Lafayette Urban Ministry Immigration Clinic has become one of the few affiliates in CLINIC’s 380+ network to obtain initial partial accreditation for five or more volunteers at one time. The mighty five, a group of staff members at the program that includes Margaret Hass, Aparna Puri, Beata Ribeiro, Adelia Sorge and Mary Tilden, learned they had received accreditation last April.

“Having five people to count on has added energy and synergy to the program,” said Rev. Brouillette, who leads the Lafayette-based affiliate. “It has made a world of difference to be part of a team to debrief difficult cases and to set goals about the program’s future. Truly, their love for helping immigrants is inspiring.”

Just in time for CLINIC Convening 2019 in Pittsburgh, Rev. Brouillette was able to raise funds to sponsor all five volunteers to attend the annual event and continue their education; meet with hundreds of community leaders, practitioners and advocates; and greet CLINIC Field Support Coordinator and Section Manager Nathaly Perez, the Latina staffer who guided and supported their trajectory to Department of Justice, or DOJ, accreditation.

“Susan was very diligent in learning the DOJ Recognition and Accreditation requirements and making sure her team could fulfill those standards effectively and timely,” said Perez. “Susan is a model program director who is not only dedicated to her staff and volunteers, but to the immigrant community.”

Susan and her team network across the state through their work with partner organizations, including the Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies, the local YWCA and the Lafayette Adult Resource Academy, with which they partner for citizenship classes and integration-related programming.

“With Nathaly’s support, we have been able to focus on serving clients and know we will be taken care of in this difficult journey. Like having eyes that are able to see in the fog, we are being thoughtfully guided in the right direction,” said Rev. Brouillette. The faith leader also credits CLINIC trainings, legal expertise and well-researched resources and analysis for their success.

Whether it be reaching out to Catholic parishes for Know Your Rights presentations, hosting naturalization campaigns or spearheading initiatives with local colleges and universities, the Lafayette Urban Ministry Immigration Clinic’s team looks at the path ahead with hope and fully committed to fighting for the rights and dignity of immigrants.

If you're interested in becoming an affiliate, read more about its benefits and/or email Jeff Chenoweth.