Employees who recently became U.S. citizens through the Goodwin Living Foundation’s citizenship grant program were honored at a reception and panel discussion Sept. 18 at Goodwin House Alexandria.
Among those celebrating their new citizenship were Nada Boris and Melvin Palmer, both employees of Goodwin House and The View Alexandria.
“I was blessed to be part of Nada’s naturalization ceremony at which time 49 individuals from 29 countries were made new citizens,” said program coordinator Judy Hansen. “For us as friends and family it was a joy but for those becoming new citizens it was a solemn and moving chapter in their very long journey.”
In 2018, Goodwin Living and the Goodwin Living Foundation created a citizenship application fee program that provides employees with grants to cover the cost of the $725 citizenship application fees. Nearly 1,000 Goodwin House employees from more than 60 countries are non-U.S. citizens.
“I am very grateful for the diversity that I have living here,” said Boris, who came to the U.S. in November of 2016 and works as a marketing and communications coordinator. “It is the many places, people and cultures that makes the United States so special.”
Palmer came to the U.S. in October of 2015 from Sierra Leone.
“The United States is the greatest country in the world,” said Palmer, who works in maintenance. “In my country, there is no opportunity. I started here as a dishwasher but did not have the money to pay for citizenship so I am excited to be given this opportunity to become a U.S. citizen.”
Goodwin House residents volunteer to tutor the employees to prepare for their citizenship exams. The program has been so successful that Goodwin Living has extended the citizenship program to the spouses and children of employees and created a Citizenship Playbook to help other institutions implement similar programs.
Five years after creating the program, Goodwin House has impacted 130 lives in creating new U.S. citizens.
“What surprised me most about America is how diverse, different, and accepting it is,” Boris said. “No matter where you are from or who you are, you will always find your tribe here and I feel very grateful for that.”