BY MARY SOLBERG | FAITHLIFE
Ajla Glavasevic and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwest Pennsylvania have teamed up for a cause close to their hearts.
At 27, Glavasevic finished the Erie Marathon Sept. 11 to help raise money for the new Sisters of St. Joseph Initiative for Immigration Fund. The goal is to collect $10,000 to finance legal assistance for the increasing number of immigrants in northwestern Pennsylvania.
At press time, Glavasevic—who is an attorney with Jones, Gregg, Creehan & Gerace in Sharon—raised $2,610 through the fundraising site www.crowdrise.com.
“My goal is to let immigrants know about the options available. Legal services do exist and there is a way that we can alleviate the financial stress and pressures,” Glavasevic says.
Glavasevic, who at age 6 immigrated to Erie with her family from Bosnia and Herzegovina, understands the plight of displaced people. The genocide and war in the former Yugoslavia had claimed at least six members of her extended family.
“This has been a driving force. I know the sacrifices that many of these people endure when they come into this country,” she says.
Growing up in Erie, Glavasevic got to know the Sisters of St. Joseph through her best friend, Meredith Pompeani, who is the daughter of Stephanie Hall, the religious community’s public relations director. Over the years, Glavasevic attended many events sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph.
They share a common vision of peace and social justice. So when Glavasevic approached Hall about doing a marathon, ideas started rolling.
Hall and the SSJ leadership team brainstormed about ways to combine the community’s peace and justice outreach with Glavasevic’s legal expertise and passion for immigrants.
“The passion Ajla has…oh my gosh,” Hall says. “She’s a go-getter.”
Glavasevic eaned her undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she attended as a Division I track and field captain and scholarship student. In May 2014, she earned her law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. An elite athlete, she spent a year competing as a member of the USA women’s bobsled team, through which she met her fiancé, who is a member of Austria’s men’s bobsled team.
Since January 2016, she has practiced law with Jones, Gregg in the areas of immigration, domestic relations, criminal and employment law.
Erie, she says, is the fifth largest resettlement community in the nation, yet there are no attorneys in the region strictly devoted to practicing immigration law.
“I think immigration law will be growing 100 percent. How long that growth will last will depend on the policies and laws that are implemented in this country,” she says. “If we become more isolationist, there could be changes in deportation. If we become more open, we will see an influx of refugees.”
To donate to the Initiative for Immigration Fund, search Ajla at www.crowdrise.com.
For those who want to send a contribution by mail, checks may be made payable to the Sisters of St. Joseph, earmarked for the Initiative for Immigration Fund, and mailed to:
Sisters of St. Joseph of
5031 West Ridge Road, Erie, PA 16506