#GivingTuesday 2017: “Getting help from NALEO was something big! NALEO is always there!”

For Maria del Rosario, learning English and attending civics classes at her local community college in San Antonio, Texas was the continuation of a dream she put on hold. 

After immigrating to the U.S. from her home state of Guanajuato, Mexico, Maria became a wife and mother.  Once her son entered kindergarten, she was able to once again make time for herself and continue her education.  Maria was a committed student and loved her English and civics courses, raving, “My instructor, Ms. Soto, would update us about politics and would tell us, ‘Pay attention to what’s being said about our community.  Become a U.S. citizen. Go out and vote!’”  Soon after, Maria felt the urge or las ganas to start the naturalization process and become a U.S. citizen to vote in elections and make her family proud.

While on campus, Maria saw an announcement for a NALEO Educational Fund citizenship workshop and attended to learn more about the naturalization process.  Citizenship workshops like these are held across the country to provide citizenship applicants with free assistance with the N-400 application and I-912 fee waiver form, on-site consultations with an immigration attorney, and study materials for the citizenship interview and exam.  Maria admits she was nervous about the English language requirements – a component of the naturalization interview – but later learned that basic, conversational English language knowledge was sufficient for the USCIS interview.

Maria said, “Getting help from NALEO was something big! NALEO is always there!  The [citizenship] process was surprisingly short.  I sent in my application in April, completed the exam in August, and was sworn-in by September.  The English language requirements became a motivator for me to learn more English and take advanced classes.”

Assisting Maria with her citizenship application was NALEO Educational Fund Regional Program Manager – San Antonio Liliana Mireles. “People like Maria embody what it means to be an American. Not only did Maria complete the naturalization process with NALEO Educational Fund, but she is now paying it forward by helping others fulfill their own dreams of citizenship,” said Liliana.

Maria’s life changed once becoming a U.S. citizen. Not only did Maria learn English, but she also passed the GED exam and enrolled in college prep and weekend computer courses.  Now as a volunteer at NALEO Educational Fund citizenship workshops, Maria gives this advice to applicants, “Make the time for it [citizenship]. It’s an investment into your future. Don’t fear losing your former self when becoming a U.S. citizen. You will grow and enhance what it means to be American with the values of your country.” 

NALEO Educational Fund’s toll-free, bilingual citizenship hotline 1-888-839-8682 is a vital part of our efforts to assist aspiring Americans like Maria.  Headquartered in the organization’s Los Angeles offices, the 1-888-839-8682 citizenship hotline is staffed year-round by fully-trained operators who can answer questions about the naturalization process and the availability of local resources.  In 2017, the hotline averaged 10,000 phone minutes a month assisting callers interested in U.S. citizenship nationwide.

This #GivingTuesday, consider making a $10 donation to help pay for 10,000 citizenship hotline minutes so we can continue assisting potential new Americans in the coming year. To make a donation, please visit www.naleo.org/invest_now.


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