June 25, 2021

Celebrating American Citizenship in NWA

On June 17, EngageNWA partnered with Arkansas United to celebrate new American citizens. The event was possible through EngageNWA’s membership with Welcoming America and a national campaign by Old Navy. During this celebration, special guest Mayor Doug Sprouse of the City of Springdale read a proclamation stating “the city of Springdale is grateful to all those involved working diligently to assist those seeking citizenship and extends best wishes to all our newly naturalized citizens, as we continue to embrace Springdale’s cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity.”

This event celebrated Maria Gomez, Roxana Torres, Brenda Funes, Maria Toledo, Marisa Del Real, Esmeralda Barrera, Floridalma Esquit and the educators who supported them on their journey to citizenship. These women were all very excited, motivated and proud to be called Americans. Even though the majority of them have been living in the U.S. for over a decade, becoming an American citizen was the next step and a big dream that they accomplished. Their reasons for becoming citizens included being able to vote, having a stronger sense of belonging, feeling safe, not fearing being separated from American children, and continuing to contribute to the community.

They also expressed some of the challenges they faced before and in the process of becoming a citizen. All of them conveyed fear of the unknown. They thought that because they weren’t completely comfortable speaking and understanding English, they might not pass the exam.

Another common challenge was lack of information and resources about citizenship, which is why Arkansas United’s services were crucial in helping them achieve this milestone. Arkansas United is a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower Arkansas immigrants through advocacy and service. Since 2010, the organization has worked to connect with communities across the state and build mutual trust. Of the many services they offer, they provide educational and legal workshops and guide immigrants in the entire process of becoming a citizen. 

EngageNWA is committed to being a connector for all communities in the region and to advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts collaboratively to create a high quality of life for all who decide to call NWA home. This project was made possible through a partnership with Arkansas United and support from Welcoming America and Old Navy. 

roxanna recieving citizenshipMaria Gomez receiving her citizenshipbrenda recieving citizenshipMaria Toledo receiving her citizenshipMarisa Del Real receiving her citizenshipEsmeralda Barrera receiving her citizenshipFloridalma Esquit receiving her citizenship