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John Rafferty, an attorney with the law firm Gawthrop Greenwood, PC, has been elected to the board of the Volunteer English Program, which ensures that English language services remain available and accessible to the many immigrants and refugees living and working throughout Chester County.
“At a time when communicating transnationally is more important than ever, it seems to me essential that we give new immigrants in Chester County the tools that they need to succeed and contribute to the interwoven fabric of our country,” says Rafferty, a member of Gawthrop Greenwood’s Litigation practice. “I’m excited to work with the talented people on VEP’s board to help expand the reach of one-on-one English tutors we train and support.”
Rafferty’s passion for assisting newcomers from other countries began during his career in the U.S. Navy, where he served as the Assistant General Secretary for the Migrant Workers Protection Society in Bahrain, which addressed the housing needs of the area’s migrant workforce. He was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal for meritorious shipboard accomplishments, as well as the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for exemplary public service efforts.
Rafferty also lived in Ecuador for 10 months on a Fulbright Fellowship, where he conducted field research on the scope of human trafficking. When he returned to the U.S., he fought for immigration benefits for victims of human trafficking. He also initiated civil suits under federal and state law to recover unpaid wages for victims of trafficking.
Gawthrop Greenwood has been a supporter of VEP for more than 15 years, with attorneys volunteering their time as VEP board members and board chair. The firm is also a proud supporter of VEP’s annual Celebratory Fundraising Dinner. With a theme of “Building the Chester County Community,” this year’s event celebrated 31 years of defining achievements by VEP students, tutors, volunteers and community partners.