In 2012, Andres Rivera devoted close to 40 hours a week helping to organize OCCORD citizenship fairs at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Santa Ana and the East Street Community Renewal Initiative in Anaheim. He learned all aspects of the citizenship program and demonstrated such a strong commitment that we offered him a full-time staff position when the opportunity arose.
“I began my journey at OCCORD as a volunteer for the Citizenship Program, and because of my volunteer experience I discovered what I wanted to do in life. Before graduating from UCSD in 2010 with a B.A. in Latin American Studies, I knew that I wanted to do something in life to create opportunities for immigrant families. I wanted to empower people, and I wanted to be a part of something exciting that I believed in. OCCORD’s volunteer program gave me the tools and strength to develop myself as a leader for my community so that I could get something done.
“As a volunteer I was given the opportunity to develop phone-bank trainings that would be used by other volunteers in the future. I also taught citizenship classes that prepared people for their naturalization exam and interview. In both the trainings and classes I was able to help people to figure out and become more conscious of how they could change things for themselves and for their very own communities. As a volunteer, I would see people get turned on to how they can have an impact or get excited about being part of a group that is trying to take action to make positive change.
“My experience as an OCCORD volunteer was very fulfilling, it was an intense period of volunteering that got into my blood; it changed who I was. I definitely believe deep in my heart that volunteering is the only hope we have for a better world.”