*I am pleased to announce our newest addition to the CLDI family, Courtney Ridgeway and her vision to utilize her skills as a lawyer to serve the least of these. In determining those we partner with, CLDI asks that each division of CLDI: 1) maintain the mission of CLDI; 2) focus on Jesus and the gospel; and 3) remember the poor. Undoubtedly, Courtney and Legal Samaritans of Montana is about all three! We are blessed for His faithfulness in providing wonderful, gifted, and talented followers of Jesus like Courtney. – Eric Basye
I have no doubt that God purposefully gave us both a head and a heart to provide the balance we need to live an enriched and fulfilling life. The majority of the time, our head guides us logically while our heartstrings lead us emotionally. Often these two conflict and combat each other, and my career as an attorney in private practice had my thinker and my ticker in quite the grapple.
My heart longed to serve those I experienced in marginalized communities through various volunteer work on a full-time basis. My head, on the other hand, reminded me that although my heart would be full, I may have a tough time paying the mortgage and my law school student loans with smiles and hugs.
Six months ago my husband recognized my internal discomfort and asked me what I would be if I could be anything in the world. I never dreamed that my head and heart would align and my ideal career could become a reality.
“An attorney, a pastor, and a counselor…all at the same time!” was my reply to his question. I wanted to provide faith-based, holistic and practical legal solutions to the issues that hinder many individuals in our community. I am in awe of God’s blessings and how He has answered my prayers in making my dream, and His plan, into a reality.
Our community is plagued with a variety of legal issues stemming from significant rates of poverty, abuse and neglect, unemployment, addiction, and the breakdown of the family unit. Legal Samaritans of Montana is honored to join CLDI as a division that serves such individuals and families by providing legal aid, education, assistance, resources and representation.
The 2010 Legal Needs Study conducted by the Montana Justice Foundation stated that approximately 49% of low-income Montana households have at least one civil legal need; and almost half of those needs are unmet. Through the generosity of local donors I will be able to bridge the gap between ability and need to assist those with unmet needs.
In addition, a Montana Legal Services Association survey found that for every dollar spent on providing civil legal services in 2013, $3.15 flowed into the Montana economy. This total economic impact means that for every dollar in-state funders and donors spent on providing legal aid, $10.61 is put back into Montana’s economy.
Legal Samaritans, in connection with local churches and other non-profit organizations, will offer education and clinics to adults focusing on a variety of relevant issues. These include child custody, landlord/tenant matters, domestic violence protection, addiction recovery, guardianship, money management, and many others. Future plans also include an LSM Institute facility located downtown to serve as a clinic, classroom, bible study host-site, and self-help/resource center.
I am a walking testament that God faithfully answers prayers when you submit yourself to His plan and ask to be positioned accordingly. I encourage you all to do the same in your lives and watch the amazing ways He will work.
If you or your organization feels you would benefit from a relationship with Legal Samaritans of Montana, I look forward to discussing further how I can be a better neighbor to you.
Courtney B. Ridgeway, Esq.