Teams Organizing to Help JFON Reclaim Lives

Date Posted: 9/12/2013

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie and teams across all of the TAC districts are grabbing their running and walking shoes -- and a few friends -- to raise funds to provide legal services to all nationalities through Justice For Our Neighbors. Read why these “Methodists are on the Move” in both short and longer distances, and why Immigration Advocate Wanda Wright volunteers her legal expertise weekly at Mision Milby.


Collin Taylor can vividly remember the first time he ran a half-mile without stopping. “I got into running during my weight loss journey a few years ago and it has taught me valuable lessons about endurance and goal setting,” he says. He is one of the team leaders for the Southwest District who will be participating in the Monster Dash in November, and one of many from all districts to have a fundraising page dedicated to help the cause of JFON.  He adds, “Every dollar my teammates and I raise will be matched by the Moody Foundation up to $100,000, so any dollar given will go twice as far! I am asking friends and family to help me raise a modest $350 to help launch a JFON clinic in Houston.”


“I just signed up for my first 5K race in 10 years,” adds Mision Milby’s Eddie Hilliard, who will be on the Central South District team in the Monster Dash as well. “If you think it must be an important reason for me to subject my 57-yr-old knees to this undertaking, you are correct. I believe in the UMCOR effort called Justice for our Neighbors and I am asking our team to raise our fair share.”


Bishop and coordinator leading by example

“I urge you to participate in the Tyler Rose Weekend in October or join me in Pearland at the November Monster Dash,” says Bishop Huie. “We, as the Texas Annual Conference, have an incredible opportunity to welcome the immigrant as we would welcome any child of God through the JFON clinics. These clinics are established and funded by United Methodists to provide legal services to all nationalities. The clinics will address a wide range of needs from family matters to victims of violence and human trafficking. The generous Moody Foundation Match requires us to raise $100,000 outside of the TAC budget in order to receive the full $100,000 matching grant.  The Fun Runs, walks and longer races in the Pearland and Tyler areas are a great way for us to achieve that goal. There is something for everyone – regardless of your stamina and training.”


Campaign coordinator Leah Taylor and husband Tom will be participating in the Tyler event and have set up this fundraising website Notes Leah, “I understand that these dates might not work for everyone.  Reason2race is an organization that can help by connecting you with other races and allowing the funds you raise to be designated to JFON.


To donate or join a team:

In an effort to raise the stakes, Rev. Diane McGehee, TAC Director of Missional Excellence, is running for the North District in Tyler and for Central South in Pearland. “I am throwing down a challenge to see which district will raise the most to sponsor my run,” she says.

Support/join these participants – and hurry!


Central South District

Pearland November 2

Eddie Hilliard

Will Reed    

Mireya Ottaviano

Jorge Ortiz

Bernice Terregrossa

Bishop Janice Huie

Diane McGehee


Central North District

(Be the first to sign up!)


East District

(Be the first to sign up!)


North District –

Tyler Rose Run October 12-13

Bill Taylor

Tim Holland

Diane McGehee


Northwest District

(Be the first to sign up!)


South District –

Pearland November 2

Keith Swatzel

Samantha Seale

Donna Lang

Danielle Lang

Dean Leathers

Mike Lindstrom


Southeast District

(Be the first to sign up!)


Southwest District—

Tyler Rose Run October 12-13

Leah Taylor

Tom Taylor

Pearland November 2

Colin Taylor

Houston Half Marathon

Kim Meyers


West District

(Be the first to sign up!)


WANTED: runners and walkers from the Central North, East, Southeast and West districts.

1.   Join your district’s running or walking team and help your district raise funds.   It only takes one runner/walker and some districts still need initial team members.  Can you help your district team get started or join in? to register.  Follow the links (or contact Leah Taylor at for help) - but you need to hurry – the first event is set for October 12-13, 2013 in Tyler.  There is also a race/walk set for Saturday November 2, 2013 in Pearland.  Or


2.   Support and ask your congregation to support your district runners by donating to the running page of any team member. 


Helping immigrants on a weekly basis through Mision Milby, Paralegal Wanda Wright sees firsthand how lives and circumstances are overlooked in the middle of heated political debate related to immigration. “For example, I have clients that were raised to think they were U.S. citizens until they go for their driver’s license and it is revealed that they do not have the proper documentation as a result of decisions their parents might have made,” explains Wanda. “Children brought here have no choice in the matter and eventually the lack of a birth certificate or social security number catches up to them.” She has other clients separated from their loved ones for years. “Many have interesting reasons for being here and most are law abiding citizens living like you and I, but struggling with the complexities of immigration law.”


Another client from Pakistan sought Wanda’s help to become independent and escape from domestic violence. “She was desperate to come to the U.S. and married hastily,” Wanda explains. “She soon found herself here with no friends, needing medical attention, and help to move out of her abusive environment.  She needed assistance to meet all of her basic needs.  This ministry definitely goes far beyond sitting behind a desk.”


JFON clinics can help clients avert financial and legal harm

Since recent immigration changes are causing an increase in demand for legal assistance, unregulated law firms are often exploiting people with extravagant fees and meaningless advice. Instead, Wanda is a strong proponent of JFON clinics and nonprofit agencies like her own that provide affordable legal assistance to clients that provide full disclosure of their background.  While traditional law firms can charge thousands to submit immigration paperwork, Wanda’s firm charges a mere $25 consultation fee. Her traditional fees for additional legal work follow the nonprofit agency guidelines. With police work in her background, Wanda can make judgment calls based on her intuition, but acknowledges, “Citizenship is the highest benefit the U.S. can bestow on someone, so we do not take this lightly.”  For more information visit:


How individuals and churches can help


·         WRITE A CHECK: Make your check out to “Texas Annual Conference” and in the memo line write: JFON (and the name of your district) then mail it to the Conference Office at TAC, The Center For Missional Excellence, 5215 Main Street, Houston, Texas 77002


·         DONATE ON LINE: Go to   and find your district team’s running page.  Click on the link and find the list of runners for your district.  Make a donation to the running page of any runner by clicking “view” beside the runner’s name and then scrolling down the page to “Sponsor Me” (click that link and follow the prompts to make an online donation)


The funding will help the conference set up new JFON clinics. Then, volunteers can get trained as “intake workers” conducting needs assessments with clients. Adds Wanda, “I would also propose TAC churches allow us to train their volunteers and staff to be a place where the immigrant community can at least make an initial application for services.”


The countdown to the fall fundraising events is underway and grassroots support is building with the goal of attaining the Moody Foundation match. “Once the new JFON clinics are established, there will be opportunities to participate in life-changing, hands on mission with our neighbors from all over the world,” Bishop Huie adds.