Fayetteville JFON attorney has an unexpected JFON connection
As a volunteer for New York JFON, Donna Akuamoah often greeted prospective clients arriving for their first appointments. They invariably noticed her accented English—Donna is a native of Ghana—and recognized her as a fellow immigrant.
“Are these people you can trust?” they would sometimes ask her, voices lowered as they anxiously scanned their surroundings. “Will we be okay here?”
“Yes!” Donna assured them, smiling. “You came to a good place.”
Donna would know. She is herself a former NY JFON client and can happily shout their praises for hours on end.
But she also understands the apprehension of immigrant clients. It takes an act of courage to make—and keep—that first appointment. It takes a leap of faith to place your life in someone’s hands, no matter how capable or trustworthy.
“By the time people come to see attorneys,” she explains, “they really are at their wit’s end. They are so afraid. They hear some of the rhetoric that goes on in this country. They are terrified of what might happen if they come out of the shadows. They worry that they will be swindled out of any money they may have.”
Having a diverse staff—including different races, ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds—can help create a safe and welcoming space for vulnerable immigrants. But the key here is the relationship between the client and the attorney.
“The most important thing is to have an attorney who respects you, listens to you, and supports you throughout the immigration process,” Donna asserts.
That was her experience with NY JFON, and she plans for it to be the experience of every person who walks through the doors of Fayetteville JFON.
“And the doors,” she adds, “will always be open.”
Donna graduated from Duke University School of Law in 2011, with the help of a scholarship from the United Methodist Women.
“I wanted to be like Kofi,” she admits, referring to fellow Ghanaian Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations and her childhood hero.
“But I love this much more,” she says about her work as site attorney for our newest JFON site in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“I don’t want any middleman between me and the clients. I want clients to come and tell me their own stories. I want to make a direct impact on their lives.”
Donna’s smiling face grows thoughtful.
“Because there is no greater honor on this earth than that.”