For the eighteen years prior to attending college, my community service consisted of whatever my classmates organized. Honestly, I never felt particularly motivated to serve. But at the Virginia Military Institute, service to one' s community isn't "highly recommended," it is demanded of every cadet. I joined our local reading and mentorship program, of which I became the "cadet-in-charge" by my junior year. We visited local elementary and middle schools to read, assist with homework, and provide one-on-one mentorship to older children. After commissioning as an Engineer Officer in 2009, I often found myself too busy to volunteer as regularly as I had in college. I took the few opportunities that came along, but felt like I was missing something, although being a leader in the Army is demanding and fulfilling. So, when I decided to leave the Army in 2015 to attend law school in 2017, I decided to use that free time to volunteer in my community, which was El Paso, TX. I applied for a full-time, non-paid internship at Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, and it truly changed my life. Las Americas is a very small non-profit that provide legal representation to low-income immigrants escaping domestic violence and human trafficking, reuniting families, and those seeking asylum from more than 62 countries around the world. Las Americas had recently had some financial struggles, so there was an abundance of administrative and fundraising work. After the a month, I knew I had made the right decision. The other interns, volunteers and full-time staff at Las Americas were so professional and dedicated to serving that nearly everyone was willing to take on extra work, work late regularly, participate in all fundraising events because they truly believe in the mission. It felt like we worked under duress for a majority of my time as an intern, but it was always great to celebrate our victories, especially winning cases. When I applied to Las Americas, I never imagined that it would fill a void of comradery, teamwork, and mission-focus that I would lack when I left Active Duty Army. Everyone was so dedicated to this selfless work that, much like the Army, long hours went by quickly and just completing a job was all the reward we needed. It's a special organization that has served thousands of clients since it's formation in 1987, and it allowed me to give back to my community in a completely different capacity.
Review from #MyGivingStory
This organization provides legal assistance for people caught up in immigration problems. They work with battered women, unaccompanied minors, and people who are being deported, or seeking asylum. I personally cannot imagine being a child alone in jail awaiting deportation and being expected to testify on my own behalf in a legal hearing in a language I did not know. Las Americas can provide legal advice for such a situation. I am aware that they helped a US citizen high school student who had been mistakenly jailed and was being deported.
The work they do is very specific and very badly needed. They have helped people from all over the world.