The original spirit of Onward’s mission to provide immigrants with the tools and support they need to find a foothold in the United States continues on through our comprehensive adult education services. Through our weekly citizenship classes, immigrants seeking naturalization can find support as they weave their way through what can be a long and costly process.
It took Efrain nearly 20 years to become a US Citizen. He’d immigrated to the US from Mexico in 1979 and in 2000 began his work to attain citizenship. However, it was challenging to find a citizenship program that fit his busy schedule of working and taking care of his family. Efrain found himself continuously reenrolling and paying tuition, and yet still unprepared for the test.
“There are so few places to receive quality instruction like this.”
In 2017, Efrain renewed his mission to become a citizen of the country where he’d spent the majority of his adult life. Efrain began taking citizenship classes at Onward House with Mr. Tapia. The class structure allowed him the freedom to miss a class and still catch up without paying fees. Efrain found that Mr. Tapia also provided additional guidance and tips that made the difference, including: visiting the police station for records, interview attire, and additional documents to bring to support his application. As a bonus, students who took the test always returned to class to “pay it forward” and share their test experience.
Efrain began to volunteer at Onward’s food pantry as a way to give back to the organization for providing free Citizenship classes, which help approximately 30 individuals earn their citizenship each year.
Onward’s citizenship classes are funded by donations, to them, Efrain’s message is, “thank you so much for the support. There are so few places to receive quality instruction like this.”
Efrain passed his citizenship test in July 2018. When asked how it felt he replied, “I’m still learning, but I will feel like a citizen after the ceremony.” Once Efrain formally pledges his Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America, Efrain plans to take ESL classes at Onward to improve his English. He plans to continue to volunteer at the food pantry.