Heiting-Doane provides legal help to immigrants.
Andy Heiting-Doane ’04 is putting his legal skills to work for people in need. An attorney with LaMarca Law Group, his volunteer work is a fairly new part of his life, spurred by childhood memories. “I thought a lot about all the times I saw my parents helping people in need,” he says. “I saw each of them give their time to people who needed help, even when the work was difficult; even when the time commitment was enormous; even when no one was looking, and they got no credit for it from anyone. I realized that I hadn’t given my own children very many memories like those.”
So he made the commitment to start helping others. Heiting-Doane volunteers with Justice For Our Neighbors, an organization dedicated to helping immigrants through legal services, education and advocacy, as well as the ACLU.
Q: How did you focus your volunteer work?
I have always felt very strongly about making it easier for immigrants to come to America and stay here. Because my children were born in America, they have clean water, a free world-class education and freedom from oppression. I want every parent to be able to give this life to their children.
Q: What type of work do you do?
I am representing two immigrants who are seeking asylum. That means they can’t return to their home countries because they could be murdered if they do. One client brought her three-year-old daughter to America to escape domestic violence in El Salvador. The other fled Guatemala because of anti-gay violence there. If they get deported, their lives are at risk.
Q: What advice would you give others who may want to volunteer but aren’t sure how to start?
I made a deal with myself last year: If I start helping right now, I won’t let myself feel guilty for all the years that I didn’t help.
Q: As a professional with a young family, how do you find time to volunteer? What makes it worthwhile?
“I don’t have time to volunteer because of my job and my family,” was just another excuse I was using to pretend I couldn’t help. My wife, Jana (Heiting-Doane ’04), has supported everything I’ve ever done, and this is no different; she does even more for our family than she did before, allowing me to give time to pro bono work. My law firm, LaMarca Law Group, has been very supportive.
Q: Any stories you’d like to share?
At a JFON clinic, I sat around a table with three generations of one family, none of whom had ever been taught how to read any language. They were up against government immigration lawyers trying to deport a family member to a country where he could be killed. Families like these need stability and safety through legal immigration status.
Q: How are your Central connections important to you?
My family is a very Central family; my wife Jana and I met at Central and got married at the Central Chapel. My mom (Cheri Trout Doane ’98, director of Community-Based Learning) is on faculty, and Jana’s mom, Ellen Heiting, retired in 2012 after 38 years working at Central. At Central, through service-learning, I got to work with bilingual kids at the Hispanic Educational Resources preschool. Service-learning at Central taught me the difference between shouting about a problem and helping.