Sometimes bad things happen to good people—people who are working hard for their families, trying to make it in an unpredictable world. An illness, an accident, a job loss, a divorce, a death — any of these can throw life off course. And when someone hits a rough spot, sometimes all they need is a helping hand, just enough to help them over the obstacle in the way.
In his law practice, Jim Dodson often meets people who have hit that rough spot in the road, and he knows how hard it can be. That is one reason he has committed so much of his time and resources to Isaiah’s Inn, a program near and dear to his heart.
Founded over 20 years ago by Clearwater CPA Bob Crown, Isaiah’s Inn works to keep struggling families together by helping them with the resources they need to recover when a crisis strikes. Isaiah’s Inn helps in many ways, according to need. Many people need assistance with rent, utility bills, or food. Some need transportation or tuition payments to remain in school. Many are single mothers, but some are intact families. They hear about Isaiah’s Inn through churches, social agencies, friends, or people in the community.
While Isaiah’s Inn is a Christian organization, its outlook is ecumenical, and help is available to anyone, regardless of faith, who is committed to working or attending school, and striving to get back on their feet. It is help for the short term, until the family can once again stand on their own and return to self-sufficiency. And what for some may be even more important than the financial assistance, Isaiah’s Inn offers encouragement, hope, and prayer.
The program’s services are financed entirely by donations, and overhead is kept very low, at only 4 percent, with only one full-time employee, a part-time assistant, and a rented office. This means that almost all donations go directly to help people in need. Isaiah’s Inn is actively assisting about 30 families at any given time.
When one of Jim’s recent clients, who was injured in a car wreck, was unable to work, he referred her to Isaiah’s Inn, which helped her with rent until she was able to return to her job.
At the beginning of every new school year, all the children of Isaiah’s families actively receiving assistance get new back packs, shoes, an outfit, and school supplies.
At Christmas, families receiving assistance in the present and those who have been helped in the past are treated to a traditional banquet with turkey, ham, and all the trimming. Between 500 and 600 people attend. Jim Dodson Law not only volunteers at the banquet but also donates all the dry goods and banquet supplies. Over 100 kids usually attend, and each one receives a wrapped Christmas gift.
Jim has been on Isaiah Inn’s board of directors for many years, and plans to continue to serve for many more.