The work we do here at the IRC in Atlanta would not be possible without our incredible community of supporters, and nowhere is this more evident than in our Saturday and Monday Citizenship Preparation classes—fully led and staffed by dedicated IRC volunteers.
Bob Gordon is a military veteran, retiree and lover of history and world travel. Kelly Daniels is an artist, business owner and first-generation American with personal ties to the refugee community. The dynamic pair met in early 2017, when Kelly began volunteering in the IRC in Atlanta’s free Citizenship Prep classes which Bob had launched and expanded himself more than a year prior. Together, they have nearly a decade of combined experience helping immigrants and refugees become American citizens!
Supported by many other IRC volunteers along the journey, Bob and Kelly’s Citizenship Classes have become a safe and welcoming space for many new Americans apprehensive about taking the U.S. citizenship test—the final step in so many immigrant journeys. The Saturday class was born from a need to accommodate one student who couldn’t get time off work to attend class during the week. When childcare wasn’t available, Bob and Kelly welcomed the children of students into the classroom and, as Bob recalls, “Periodically the kids would holler out the answers to the questions we were practicing if their parents got stuck!” It became somewhat of a tradition for students to return to the class after passing their tests to celebrate and share food from their home countries with their peers and teachers.
Bob and Kelly’s passion for their volunteer work is evident to all who know them, so it was no surprise to the IRC in Atlanta’s Adult Education and Immigration teams when they announced they were creating a book—Citizenship Prep: A Guide to Passing the U.S. Citizenship Test. Written by Bob and Kelly and hand-illustrated by Kelly, the study guide is based on their personal approach to learning that has helped dozens of students from around the world to pass their citizenship test so far. Bob explained, “We’re teaching more than just the basic information required to pass the test, so they can remember the answers under pressure, when they’re nervous.”
Kelly shared, “Our hope in writing this book is twofold: that 1) our simplified, graphic guide to citizenship helps many more immigrants become citizens than we could ever teach in the classroom ourselves and 2) that we are able to further support the work of the International Rescue Committee (IRC)!” Citizenship Prep: A Guide to Passing the U.S. Citizenship Test, is now available for purchase on Amazon and Bob and Kelly have generously chosen to donate all proceeds from book sales to the IRC in Atlanta! In addition, these committed volunteers have also created a GoFundMe, where people can donate a copy of the book for a refugee or immigrant student who is preparing to naturalize!
As we close out the month of April—National Volunteer Month—we’d like to give one last thank you to Bob, Kelly and all the volunteers and donors who walk alongside the people we serve on their unique and individual new American journeys. We think Kelly put it best: “We believe a diverse immigrant community is the heart of the United States and citizenship is an important step in us ALL growing together!”
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.