Kathleen Tonkovich: June 2014

Volunteer with citizenship now

Kathleen Tonkovich Kathleen Tonkovich: Volunteer Corps Member

Q.  Tell us about yourself--do either you or a family member have a personal immigration story?
A.  "All of my family immigrated to the United States from Europe. My great grandmother came through Ellis Island in the early 1900's. Immigration has always been interesting to me, since it was so much a part of our family history."

Q. How many times have you volunteered at our events? And what makes you keep coming back?
A.  "Over a year. I have met great people who work for CUNY and volunteers. It is a great organization to spend a Saturday with helping people become citizens."

Q. What’s one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer with Citizenship Now? And why?
A.  "When we were at Brooklyn College and I had a lady who became a legal permanent resident in the early 1970's. She traveled outside the United States multiple times each year and had the passports to prove it. She was one of the last people to arrive to the event, and we were all ready to go home. There were 6 or 7 people working on these passports (laughing and joking the whole time) to get all the travel dates for the old form. She was so grateful for our hard work that even though we were tired, she had the biggest smile that made us all know that all the hard work was worth it."

Q. What is your favorite borough to volunteer at? 
A.  "I love Queens. There are so many great, diverse neighborhoods with great places to grab a dinner at after the event."

Q. Why do you volunteer with the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps?
A.  "I have always found it important to give back to my community when I can. I am passionate about working with immigrants. CUNY Citizenship Now! gives me the opportunity to combine two passions: helping others and immigration."

Q. What do you enjoy most at our events?
A.  "I enjoy the challenge of having a successful event. No two participants are the same and every story is different. We are able to give participants the best advice in the time we spend with the participants."

Q. In what way(s) has volunteering with Citizenship Now! impacted you personally?
A.  "CUNY Citizenship Now! has gotten me out into the New York City community to experience different parts of the city that I may have never gone to otherwise. Volunteering has also made me more aware of my community and the needs within it."