When high school student James Phelps began volunteering at IIBA, he knew his work would help others, but he had no idea the impact that volunteering would have on his own worldview.
“Before I started volunteering at IIBA, I was unaware that so many immigrants from all over the world were eligible to become citizens. While volunteering at citizenship workshops, I assisted people from Russia, Czech Republic, Trinidad, and Tobago, to name a few.” A volunteer in IIBA’s free citizenship preparation classes hosted by the Redwood City Office, James witnessed firsthand the empathic relationships IIBA staff members create with the people they serve. “I found out that some of the staff went through the same immigration legal processes as their clients.” A senior at Woodside Priory, James appreciates that “IIBA offers volunteer opportunities that allow high school and college students the ability to work alongside staff.” Indeed, volunteers like James are an indispensable part of the success of IIBA’s citizenship preparation classes.
What have been James’ most rewarding moments at IIBA? Seeing the students that he personally worked with return to the IIBA office to share the good news that they have become citizens. James’ commitment to working with IIBA clients recently earned him another reward: a President’s Service Award. Though he’s taken a hiatus from volunteering to complete his final season on the Woodside Priory baseball team, James plans to return to IIBA in the summer and continue making a positive impact in the lives of immigrants in his community. James thanks Menlo Park Presbyterian Church and their High School Ministry for helping spark his interest in volunteering. In the fall, James will be taking his volunteer experiences and can-do attitude to the University of Redlands where he plans on minoring in public policy.