I didn’t expect to be moved so deeply.
It was a snowy Tuesday morning, on March 25th. With gold-and-red balloons flying, an army of smiling volunteers, and joyful supporters from around the city, the Central Union Mission officially cut the ribbon on its new Gales School location near Union Station.
The monthly legal clinic organized here by Christian Legal Aid of DC now has sparkling new facilities… a crucial niche in the ongoing revolution that is the Central Union Mission. I am the Student Liaison for Christian Legal Aid, and I had come to represent “the lawyers,” as we’re known around here.
As I sat down in the bustling dedication service, I soaked in the scene.
Battle-hardened faces, softened by joy. Long-term donors from the suburbs. Ex-homeless graduates of the Spiritual Transformation Program. The important, the selfless, the recovering and the generous, all here to celebrate an accomplishment of God in the middle of a deadlocked city.
On the outside, the Gales School looks like a pleasant red-brick building dropped into the middle of DC’s busy professional life. On the inside, the place is sparkling, functional, and full of love. And the architecture only hints at the story behind it all. Founded in 1884, the Central Union Mission has helped wayward souls in the District now for almost 130 years. Originally close to Judiciary Square, then at 14th and R St. NW, the men’s shelter has now moved back near its roots at the heart of the city. It remains the centerpiece of the Mission’s comprehensive outreach that includes family ministry, a retreat center that runs summer children’s programs, and comprehensive services to lift the homeless onto their feet.
Mayor Vincent Gray, a reliable supporter of the Mission, delivered the keynote address, and long-serving Executive Director David Treadwell recounted the years of work and sacrifice that so many gave for this project.
But that’s not what made me cry.
That would be Pastor Darrel Fiddermon’s life, or to be precise, his wife.
Pastor Fiddermon shared about his early life on the streets, his minor drug conviction, and subsequent hours of community service spent cleaning the floors for Central Union Mission. Gradually, he was drawn by the story of deeper, truer life offered by God – salvation in its most vivid sense. He enrolled in the Mission’s Spiritual Recovery Program (now the Spiritual Transformation Program), rededicated his life to Christ, and went on to become a pastor at New Vision in the City Free Methodist Church.
His first date with his wife, Pastor Fiddermon recounts, was a Central Union Mission worship service.
At this point Pastor Fiddermon asks his wife to stand. She rises next to their two lovely children – a testimony to the goodness of God in the land of the living.
I don’t cry very often. But something about that moment makes me lose it – standing in the back corner, joyful and thankful.
After the ceremony, guests wander through the Gales School floors on self-guided tours. I stand by the new “lawyer” office space (next to the doctor and dentist offices) that Christian Legal Aid’s Executive Director will eventually share with the Senior Chaplain.
I answer questions, explaining that the adjacent classroom is perfect for our monthly legal clinics, and that the cost-free office space is priceless in a place like D.C.
But the bigger story is the work of God in the heart of DC. The work of God in a strong, red-brick building. The work of God in a 130-year old mission that still loves Him, and partners with innumerable other organizations to love and lift the poor.
I recognize the work of God in the Central Union Mission. For it reminds me of his Son:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:3-5
By Craig Welkener
We recently moved our monthly legal aid clinics held at the Central Union Mission’s brand new building to the last Saturday of each month. This past Saturday (March 29), we had ten volunteers consisting of three teams. We saw ten clients with issues ranging from applying for social security benefits (SSI and SSD) to child custody matters. As usual, we also offered to pray with each of our clients, which is arguably the most important thing we can do for them. CLADC thanks its consistent core of volunteers at the Mission. We look forward to seeing you all again on April 26.
Christian Legal Aid of the District of Columbia (“CLADC”) seeks an Executive Director to lead the organization into its next stage of growth to further its mission. CLADC is a Christ-focused nonprofit organization that operates three volunteer-based legal aid clinics providing free or low-cost legal services to low-income and homeless residents of Washington, D.C. With a committed Board of Directors, an established core of volunteers and new office space, CLADC is well positioned to multiply its legal services across the city. The successful candidate must share CLADC’s vision to thoughtfully and effectively connect the immense resources of the D.C. legal community with the great need for legal services among D.C.’s poorest residents in the name of Christ.
- Reports directly to: CLADC Board of Directors (“Board”)
- Location: Washington, D.C., with brand new, dedicated office space at the Central Union Mission’s new location at 65 Massachusetts Avenue NW (walking distance from Union Station)
- Salary and Benefits: Competitive; subject to negotiation
- Full-Time/Part-Time: Initially part-time (anticipated for the first six months), with the opportunity to grow to full-time (depending on meeting certain fundraising goals)
- Begins: May 1, 2014 (approximate)
- Oversee all day-to-day operations of the organization, including three monthly legal aid clinics; supervise volunteer clinic directors;
- Develop an ambitious, yet realistic plan to expand the number of existing clinic offerings and, as appropriate, create new clinic sites;
- Take primary responsibility for fundraising (with assistance from the Board and other committed volunteers), including developing and managing a fundraising campaign targeted at law firms, individuals and churches, among other groups;
- Recruit volunteers within and outside of the legal profession to help with legal aid clinics, fundraising and other key initiatives of CLADC;
- Speak at law firms, area law schools and local churches to promote the mission of Christian legal aid;
- Foster strategic relationships with government agencies, other nonprofit organizations, businesses and churches;
- Apply skills and tools from the for-profit sector to increase CLADC’s social impact;
- Create legal resources such as brochures and trainings for CLADC volunteers and clients; and
- Attend meetings of and work with the Board.
- Mature believer in Jesus Christ living in repentance and faith;
- J.D. or equivalent from an ABA-accredited law school, excellent academic credentials;
- Active license to practice law in the District of Columbia;
- At least 5 years of experience, preferably with some experience in a for-profit setting;
- Passion for working with DC’s poor and homeless community;
- Entrepreneurial, innovative and creative, decisive and strategic, yet able to adapt to changing circumstances;
- Personable, energetic, self-motivated, able to relate to a variety of personalities;
- Strong oral and written communication skills; and
- Attention to detail.
If interested, please send a cover letter and resume with “Executive Director Application” in the subject line to email@example.com.
CLADC is pleased to welcome its newest Board member, Brandon Smith, who joined as of March 1, 2014.