by JoAnn Armenta

The Arizona Justice Center, with 2 locations, the main office at 5534 W. Palmaire Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85301 and a satellite office on Wednesdays at the Glendale Christian Church, 9661 N 59th Avenue, D-102, Glendale, AZ 85302, Phone:  623-847-2772 Visit: http://www.azjusticecenter.org/

Gospel Justice Initiative affiliate organizations like the Arizona Justice Center (AJC), launched in 2013, provide a faith-based path for justice for the poor.

AJC’s mission is “To provide legal aid services and assistance particularly to the working poor and homeless of Phoenix, Arizona.”  Since opening their doors, AJC has served over 500 men, women and children—each one has a story and many of these stories are heartbreaking; they are not just cases, they are the stories of real people, who deserve respect and justice.

Here is just one of those stories of a real person (the client’s name has been changed).

Arizona Justice Center – Renee’s Story

In 2012, after nearly two decades as a dedicated and celebrated police officer, Renee’s employment was unexpectedly terminated.  After a job-related injury and a dozen surgeries, Renee returned to work, and instead of the desk job she was expecting, she was assigned to patrol duty.  It wasn’t long before she was re-injured.  While recuperating from her latest injury, out of the blue Renee was fired. With no income for nearly a year, unable to pay her bills, and growing deeper in debt each day, the water and electricity to her house were cut off and Renee wound up homeless, living out of an RV.  The ultimate indignity was when the city told her she couldn’t live in the RV and would have to find somewhere else to go.

But, where to go?  Renee turned to her church for help.  Her church prayed and rolled up their sleeves and helped her raise enough money to pay her past due water and electric bills so she could move back into her house.  And with their encouragement, she consulted attorneys to see about seeking redress to what she believed was a wrongful termination.  All the attorneys she met with agreed to take her case, but they all required enormous amounts of money up-front.  Having none, Renee said she felt hopeless and abandoned.

After waiting nearly four years for justice and her day in court, her case came to court this summer.  Her ordeal was almost over and vindication was at hand.  Renee said, however, “God must have different plans for me,” because we did not prevail in court.

Hope Wins – Even When Court Does Not

Renee said she should have been devastated by the outcome, but instead, she felt safe and warm in the embrace of her church and a group of lawyers who truly had her best interests at heart.  These were truly good men and women who live their faith in action.  Her own faith has been strengthened by this ordeal and gives her renewed hope to carry on.   She knows that our prayers are not always answered in the way or at the time we want, nonetheless, she is grateful for the help and support she has received from so many people.  She said she has regained her self-confidence and is back on the road to financial stability and a greater belief in God’s grace.

Renee is now taking some courses to “re-tool” in preparation for a new career.  She will always be grateful for the support she received from AJC and plans to do some volunteer work for the Center and share the grace that she received with others just like herself.

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