News & Views

Walk in His Shoes: How One Man Went from Client to Donor

Juan Alvarenga came from Honduras with the same dream of any immigrant—he wanted to make a better life for his daughters. Once in the United States, he started his own business doing what he knew best—repairing shoes. When Juan was robbed at gun point, a client at his shop, Wendy Castor Hess—a HIAS Pennsylvania Board member and past President—referred him to HIAS Pennsylvania.

Philippe Weisz, HIAS PA’s Managing Attorney, handled the case.  With Philippe’s help, Juan and his daughters received U and U dependent visas in 2014. U visas are available to individuals who have been, are or will be helpful to law enforcement in prosecuting crimes.  In this situation, Juan helped law enforcement capture the men who had robbed his shop. With their legal status stabilized, Juan’s daughters are taking advantage of the opportunities afforded them in the United States. His oldest daughter is about to graduate nursing school, his second oldest will graduate high school next year and wants to study dental hygiene, and his youngest is still trying to decide between being an architect or a designer.

Since getting his U visa, Juan has been making donations multiple times a year: “HIAS PA helped me and my daughters get documents which allow my daughters to dream big in their futures. We will continue to support HIAS PA so that they can help other families into the future. It is the least we can do to keep paying forward the support given us!”