Ann Marie McNamee: January 2014
Ann Marie McNamee: Volunteer Corps Member
Q. Tell us about yourself--do either you or a family member have a personal immigration story?
A. "I remember as a young girl, my father telling me the story of how my grandmother immigrated to New York, from a small village in Longford, Ireland, when she was a young woman. She arrived by boat and soon found work as a domestic. But within a year, she developed an extreme case of homesickness and was advised by a doctor to go back home for a visit. While back in Ireland visiting, she clearly saw the poverty and lack of opportunity she had left behind. She experienced a new profound realization that there was nothing for her back in Longford, and although she had been in America for a short time, it had given her more opportunity than she could have ever imagined. She went back to New York, never to return to Ireland again."
Q. How many times have you volunteered at our events? And what makes you keep coming back?
A. "I started volunteering in Spring of 2011, shortly before I graduated from Westchester Community College with my certificate in Paralegal Studies. I had taken an Immigration Law class and got hooked. Since then, I make every effort to attend as many events, as possible. I don’t keep track of the numbers of events I’ve attended, but I’m up there. The thing that keeps me coming back is the participants, volunteers, attorneys and staff at Citizenship Now! "
Q. What’s one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer with Citizenship Now? And why?
A. "About a year ago, at one of the application assistance events, I had the pleasure of assisting an entire family fill out their N-400 applications. The excitement that the family exhibited was just unbelievable and the sense of gratitude was overwhelming. At the end of the day, I left the event, feeling like I was on cloud nine!"
Q. Why do you volunteer with the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps?
A. "I volunteer with Citizenship Now for two reasons. First, is to gain knowledge and expand on my understanding of Immigration Law and its issues. Secondly, is a desire to give back to the community and assist individuals in their process to become U.S. citizens. "
Q. What do you enjoy most at our events?
A. "I enjoy listening to participants share some of their immigration stories with me, while I assist them. It is very interesting to know the hows and whys of their decisions to come to this country and apply for citizenship. Also I enjoy interacting with the other volunteers and getting to know most of them on a personal and professional level."
Q. What is your favorite borough to volunteer at? And why?
A. "Brooklyn, mostly for personal reasons. My mother was born and raised in Flatbush. I was born in Flatbush and returned eighteen years later, to attend Pratt Institute in Clinton Hill. I love to check out each of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods’ flavors, stores and take-out joints. And of course, Junior’s Cheesecake!"
Q. In what way(s) has volunteering with Citizenship Now! impacted you personally?
A. "It has made me realized what a great diverse country I live in, and it has given me a new appreciation on how we assimilate immigrants into the fabric of our country."
Q. Outside of work and volunteering, tell us about some special hobbies or interests that you have?
A. "I read a lot, mostly about current news, issues and events. I’m a bit of a newsaholic; I have CNN on most of the time, at home. I love art and design, so I’m always up for a trip to the museum. When I have some money, I travel south to do some scuba diving in the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. I feel I’m at home when I’m in the water. I think I was a fish, in a former life."
Q. What does community mean for you?
A. "Embracing both the individual and society. Acknowledging our differences with tolerance and respect, while working together for the universal greater good and advancement for all."
Q. Has your knowledge of immigration law improved because of the time you have spent volunteering with us? What have you learned?
A. "Yes, It is because of the various training sessions, I have attended over the past two years, including the Call-In training, along with the great volunteer training/guide print materials. This has allowed me to utilize the knowledge learned, and put it into practice, by assisting participants at various events. In addition, the interaction with the attorneys, staff and other immigration professionals, has been invaluable as to my education of the nuances of immigration law and its changing landscape."