Community Citizenship Drive
On Saturday, May 19th, over 100 people lined up outside the O'Hara Park Middle School Gymnasium as they waited to register the Community Citizenship Drive. At the drive, hosted by You, Me, We = Oakley!; Contra Costa Interfaith Supporting Community Organization (CCISCO) and International Institute of the Bay Area (IIBA), nearly 50 legal permanent residents were able to complete their naturalization application (N-400) and are on their way to becoming U.S. Citizens. Over 25 volunteers helped make this possible by assisting with the application, fee waivers for those that qualified, and preparing any supporting materials that were needed. Various attorneys were also on site to provide individual consultations as well as review every application that was completed. In attendance were community members from various backgrounds including various African countries, Cuba, Mexico, Pakistan, and even a gentleman from New Zealand!
The drive began with a presentation by IIBA and Catholic Charities of the East Bay on the Citizenship process, benefits and obligations and equipped applicants with all the information they'd need to complete the required forms. Volunteers then took the applicants through a checklist to ensure they were fully eligible for citizenship and then sent them to an attorney consultation if any questions came up. If they qualified, the applicants were also assisted in filling out the $680 fee waiver when they completed the application. Every application was then reviewed by an attorney and the applicants then received study materials for their civics test. In addition to the study materials, the Liberty Adult Education team and Opportunity Junction were on hand to register the applicants for ESL and Civics classes. Lastly, the applicants were able to register to participate in a Citizenship Supporter Program sponsored by You, Me, We=Oakley! where the applicants will be paired with a volunteer who will walk with them through the Citizenship Process and even help them study for the Civics test.
The Friends of Oakley and Julie & Ann Hartford contributed to the event by sponsoring 15 Oakley residents by paying their $40 registration fee. Food and beverages were donated for the volunteers by Los Panchos of Pleasant Hill and by Guzman Legal Firm from Concord. Oakley Starbucks also offered a special deal on the coffee that helped fuel all of the volunteers throughout the event. The Oakley Unified Elementary School District contributed an excellent location and staff to help with the logistics.
Without a doubt, the citizenship drive was truly a community event that brought together a diverse group of organizations/institutions, volunteers, businesses, and of course applicants who are now on their way to becoming citizens of the U.S. and becoming fully functional members of our community and civic life.