OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A lawyer and an accountant, together, Ross and Karen Pesek are helping families by the dozens.
The Peseks host a free, bilingual legal clinic on Mondays. They also started a scholarship fund to help students attend college in Nebraska.
Their dedication and love for their community started back when their love story began in college.
“We met at Central Community College in Columbus when I came from Mexico 18 years ago to study for one year and then go back to Mexico and I met him and stayed,” said Karen.
Ross added, “I was a basketball player at Central Community College and, as far as I was concerned, she was the prettiest girl on campus.”
Marriage, and three kids later, they both run Pesek Law Firm, which they opened in 2014.
“I had a job as an auditor with an accountant firm and when he decided to open the law firm I said, well, I'd rather work for ourselves, so I decided to take on the finance and office management side of the company,” said Karen.
Ross focuses on accident law but has also taken on hundreds of immigration cases.
“I love being able to walk up and down the street and see families that avoided deportations, people that we assisted getting immigration status, people that we've helped be compensated after work injuries or car crashes, and knowing that we did something together,” said Ross.
Besides sharing a business, the Peseks share a passion for being a support and resource for others, especially immigrants.
That’s why ten years ago, Ross began offering free legal immigration clinics at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in South Omaha. Due to COVID-19, he suspended the clinics in March of 2020, but relaunched the clinic at the beginning of April 2021.
It operates on a first-come, first-serve basis and is open from 7-9 p.m. During the pandemic, guests are asked to check-in in person, sign up on a sheet and wait in their vehicles. Volunteers will call clients when it’s their turn to meet with an attorney.
Ross says people will come to ask about an immigration case, COVID-19 information, or even ask questions about available resources. He says they offer a lot of translating for things such as helping them review letters from the city.
“When you're brand new to a community, you don't speak the language, you might just be reading a letter 'go here, not there,' really basic things. And so I had my law license, I spoke Spanish, and had the idea that if we are there, we don't charge consultations, we give people access to information, that can make a difference for them,” said Ross. “And that's what we did. That’s what we're doing."
President Obama’s 2013 implementation of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) also sparked the idea for the Peseks to start a scholarship fund called True Potential Scholarship to help all students, including DACA recipients, pay for college.
“After 2013, by the time we had done that wave of registering, I probably registered approximately 100 different individuals with DACA. And so after that, we tried to help them be able to go to school, help them with things that would advance them, help them be a part of the community,” said Ross. “And we figure, paying for community college is a lot cheaper, so by offering scholarships to community colleges, we’re actually helping more students.”
Since the beginning, they’ve given out 150 scholarships to over 100 students.
“I’m really proud of my wife for that. She’s the engine behind the True Potential Scholarship machine,” says Ross. “She’s the main fundraiser, she organizes everything and is always keeping up with all the students.”
The Peseks also focus on bettering South Omaha and volunteer with others to plant flowers along 24th Street.
And they do it all together; to serve immigrants in this country and help them move forward. When the Peseks help others, they reflect on their own experiences, to when they were first-timers in a different country.
“When I sit across from somebody I try to really connect on a human-to-human level,” said Ross. “And having lived in Mexico City and experienced what it's like to be an immigrant, in another country, where everybody looks different than you. Everybody speaks differently than you. People would stop and take pictures of me on the street because I looked so different from everybody else, so just understanding that there's an underlying line of humanity there for people and I always say at the beginning of every consultation, how can I help you? Como le puedo servir? And so, you tell me, what can I do for you? A lot of times people are asking for small things. Things that seem small to me anyways.”