Breadth of JIFFI Opportunities
By Megan ’17
One of my favorite events I have attended with JIFFI was a talk with Professor Judy Fox of the Notre Dame Law School. This discussion really opened my eyes to the everyday problems people living in poverty in South Bend experience. We talked about transportation, difficult access to food, and job training. It occurred to me that unless we start to address some of these issues as a community, we will never truly combat poverty. But in order to understand the issues, we need to get to know the people living with these challenges and get firsthand opinions as to how we may solve them.
I met with my second prospective client on Wednesday. I was very excited to have the opportunity to hear another story and discover whether we could offer her assistance. As soon as she walked into the room, she seemed a bit shy and hesitant to share her story with us. On the way back, Jake Bebar, head of marketing for JIFFI, commented on why she may have been apprehensive. He noted that when someone goes to a payday lender, they simply plug in some numbers and out pops a decision of either loan acceptance or denial. However, at JIFFI we want to talk with our clients; we want to hear about their story, their family, and where they want to be in the future. This allows us to better help our clients on an individual basis and also allows us to recognize larger social issues, which in turn equips us with the foundation to start solving these challenges.
I first heard about JIFFI during my Principles of Microeconomics class, and as I am majoring in Economics, I thought this organization would be a perfect way for me to combine my academic interests with my interest in becoming more involved in the South Bend community. At the time, as I can now recognize, I was very oblivious to the scope of challenges many citizens of South Bend face. JIFFI however, has taught me about many of these obstacles and has prepared me to become a more informed and active member of our community.