Jan. 22, 2016 — To alumna Leslie Crow ’13 the old adage “that if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life” became true she says after launching her career at Neighborhood Centers Inc. less than a year ago where she is now leading a support group to help immigrants.
Crow said she believes people who come from another country need a friend because it is hard to build a social network in a new country, especially when you do not speak the language.
“I have refugees who ask me questions all the time about going to school, disputes with their landlords, looking for jobs etc. so I think it would be good for them just to have a go-to person to be able to ask about how the system works here or at least point them in the right direction,” said Crow.
The support group which began the week before Thanksgiving is free and will be held every Thursday at Neighborhood Center Inc., 6500 Rookin Street, from 6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Crow will be teaching and facilitating the evening classes and hopes to establish a morning session so women with children can come after getting their kids to school.
“We are especially hoping to attract refugees and asylees, but will accept anyone regardless of status who wants to learn more about Houston, Texas, the United States and make new friends,” she said.
Before coming to UH Law Center Crow volunteered as an English as a second language (ESL) instructor at Literacy Advance, which sparked her interest in helping people from other countries.
“I taught several classes at Literacy Advance, but my favorites were the refugee classes,” said the double-UH graduate who founded the Immigration and Human Law Society with Veronica Bernal, an immigration clinic supervising fellow, while at the Law Center. “I love working with refugees. I feel like I am doing meaningful work and serving the community.”
While at the Law Center, Crow wondered if she could psychologically deal with the often emotionally-draining aspects of immigration law that she experienced during her two semesters working in the immigration clinic.
“The clinic was transformative, but also a really heart-wrenching experience,” said Crow. “I had a client that I started to think of like my little brother because he actually was similar to my own brother in many ways. I would worry about him all the time and had nightmares about him getting deported. I questioned if I could do immigration, I knew I was passionate about it, but I was afraid that I could not handle it.”
Crow graduated early and tried to find a non-profit immigration job, but since most of those positions are grant-based and do not start until May; she instead took a job in probate and estate planning.
“I was working for a great firm with great earning potential so I tried it for a year, but I was really unhappy because the work was not meaningful to me,” said Crow.
After hearing about the opening at Neighborhood Centers Inc., Crow applied and soon started what she calls her dream job.