Adam Devine has been a positive force and enthusiastic volunteer with Citizenship Now! since December 2015. Read his thoughts on volunteering with Citizenship Now!
Tell us about yourself–do either you or a family member have a personal immigration story?
While I myself do not have a personal immigration story, I have decided that I want to be of service to others and have found myself drawn to immigration legal services. I went through a pretty tough time in the few years after law school and found myself in a job that I hated, morbidly obese and generally just depressed. I decided that I needed to make some changes in my life and one of the biggest changes has been to make myself of service to others. I found that all of my problems and the things that were causing me to feel isolated and scared were a lot less problematic when I stopped focusing on myself and started to see where I could benefit others. I have been trying to focus on this new way of living for a few years now and I have been immensely rewarded by it. After I passed the bar exam last year and started to do my 50 hours of pro bono work, I found that most of the work that I was doing was immigration related. I found that this was an area I enjoyed where I could be of great help to people who don’t have as much of a voice and are in great need of assistance.
Why do you volunteer with the NYC/CUNY Citizenship Now! Volunteer Corps?
I have done volunteer work with a number of organizations in New York, and I have yet to meet a group of people that is as energetic, enthusiastic and dedicated as the CUNY Citizenship Now! staff and volunteers. The events are hugely complex and take a lot of physical, mental and emotional energy, but everyone has such a contagiously positive attitude that the time just flies by.
What do you enjoy most at our events?
A lot of participants show up to the events a little confused or anxious about the process. It is bit scary and people seem overwhelmed by it. To see those same people relax and see the stress bleed off of them a little at a time is a gift I get to experience at almost every one of the events.
In what way(s) has volunteering with Citizenship Now! impacted you personally? What have you learned?
I had no idea that immigration law was something that I was interested in before volunteering with Citizenship Now! I had no previous experience with it either in law school or professionally. Now that I have seen the help that I can provide I have broadened the scope of what I think would bring me joy professionally and personally. I just submitted my application for admission to the New York Bar and would love to continue expanding my involvement with immigration as an attorney.
What’s one of your most memorable moments as a volunteer with Citizenship Now? And why?
At my very first application assistance event I was assigned to event flow. During a slow period I was chatting with an applicant and we started talking about the civics exam. She said she was nervous about that part so I offered to practice with her. I pulled up the sample quiz on my phone and we started talking through the questions and answers. Other applicants around us started listening and joining in and before I knew it there were ten of us talking and picking apart the questions. I had no immigration experience and couldn’t help anyone with their actual application, but that experience showed me that I could be of at least a little assistance if I was willing to put in the effort.
Outside of work and volunteering, tell us about some special hobbies or interests that you have.:
In the last year I have seriously gotten into running. I joined a track club (Prospect Park Track Club!) and just completed my first 50 mile ultra-marathon. I use it as a meditative practice, as I can focus on the sound of my breathing, the feel of my feet on the ground and get to a place where I am just mindfully in the moment. My wife is also a runner, so that is something healthy that we can do together that allows us to have quality time even with our hectic schedules.