- December 12, 2013
This post comes from Gabe Fisher, Membership & Community Events Co-chair and Gala Dinner Co-Chair for the HRC Colorado steering committee.
I have been involved with the Human Rights Campaign for about two years and I have always been excited about the work that we do. In volunteering with a national organization, it is sometimes challenging not to see immediate results from our hard work. If there was ever a need for immediate validation in the many initiatives that HRC participates in, it came to me on December 7 in volunteering with ya es hora.
ya es hora is a national coalition of organizations that come together to help people take the next step toward citizenship. As the only LGBT organization in this coalition, it is important for the people served by this coalition to see that we are an organization that cares about the equality of all people.
As the training class started, Aaron, the immigration attorney leading the class, asked the volunteers, “What are the benefits of being a U.S. citizen?” Indeed the benefits of citizenship are something we often take for granted.
Arguably, one if the most important rights that a citizen has is the right to vote. The simple act of casting a vote helps to direct the future of the nation. HRC strives to elect fair and equal-minded people in office.
While I could go on a tangent about politics and government, this was not the topic of discussion with the people who were spending half of their day to advance down the road to citizenship. These people came in on one of the coldest mornings of the year in Colorado so far. Upon reflecting on the people whom I was able to help in filling out their citizenship applications, the only word that comes to mind is “grateful.” The people in the workshop were so thankful and happy that there were people to help them navigate an arduous and lengthy application. Several times in one application session I was thanked time and time again for helping and for taking the time out to be there to help. The other word that comes to mind for this day is patience. Nothing about the path to citizenship is quick. People who were here on this day have been working to become a citizen for a long time and have been very patient in the confusing process. Even on the day of the event, people were patient with “Spanglish” being spoken all around. Language was the only barrier broken on this day. Through a great and ongoing partnerships among HRC and other ya es hora organizations, we will continue to break stereotypes, and break through the obstacles that people face on their road to becoming a U.S. citizen.
I am grateful for the other HRC volunteers who were there to help, grateful for the people we were able to help. Having been adopted as a baby, I look back at photos of me and my siblings sitting on the ledge outside of the court house waiving our flags of Red, White and Blue on the day that we became citizens, something for which I will forever be – Grateful.