JIFFI Thought Bubble with Prof. Judy Fox
By Emily Campbell ’17
On a cold Monday evening, JIFFI members gathered for the weekly Thought Bubble. 122 Mendoza filled with members as they anticipated the arrival of Professor Judy Fox, a law professor at Notre Dame. Professor Fox was invited to discuss her work with predatory lending and her involvement in a particular organization in the South Bend community. Professor Fox works with the CAN organization, which is a coalition of different service organizations that seek to challenge the struggle of poverty in this city. After informal discussion and introductions, Nora Goebelbecker, Managing Partner of Community Relations for JIFFI, asked Professor Fox questions pertinent to the growth of our organization. I eagerly listened to the information Professor Fox was sharing with JIFFI, as she was providing extensive and knowledgeable insight into the issues caused by predatory lenders specifically in South Bend. Her perspective and experience on the struggles of living in poverty in South Bend was eye opening to many associates, including myself. I felt further empowered to work toward providing loans to qualified recipients after understanding the realities of the cycle of poverty that is largely caused by payday lenders.
Professor Fox revealed not only the depth of the issue that is centered on payday lenders, but also the transportation issues that many in poverty face daily. In hearing about the transportation issues in South Bend, I was reminded of the many times I missed busses coming to and from the grocery store or the mall. Sometimes the busses arrived early, late, or not at all. Immediately it became a reality that if I lived in the city of South Bend and could not afford a car, which is the situation of many of our clients, I would be forced to rely on this highly unreliable transportation system to get to work, to run errands, and even to take my kids to school and appointments. I was not alone in my frustration with the treatment of the poor in our community—many JIFFI members agreed they felt the need to work toward not only mitigating the payday lenders’ presence, but also the reformation of the transportation system.
The objective of Thought Bubbles is to offer JIFFI members the opportunity to grow in both knowledge of and service to the South Bend community. This Thought Bubble, along with others, provided JIFFI members with the ability to come to better understand the lives of loan recipients. Furthermore, it fostered a sense of responsibility to use our reputation as Notre Dame students to work to challenge the current state of poverty in South Bend both in the payday lending and transportation sectors.