Norman Rockwell Museum will partner with the Berkshire Immigrant Center, the Berkshire Community College Adult Learning Program, and the Literacy Network of South Berkshire to host their annual United States Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony on Friday, June 14th from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Now in its eighth year at the Museum, the ceremony celebrates residents of Western Massachusetts who have immigrated to the United States from around the world.
The special event will give members of the community the opportunity to welcome 20 fellow residents from 15 different countries as they are sworn-in as new naturalized citizens of our country. This year, due to increased interest and need, the Museum and the Berkshire Immigrant Center will host a second ceremony on September 20 to welcome the next group of new U.S. citizens.
“Norman Rockwell’s art celebrates our common humanity,” notes Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt. “It is an honor to welcome our new citizens to this country, and celebrate the importance of our nation’s diverse people.”
As Norman Rockwell Museum’s Four Freedoms exhibition continues its tour across the U.S. and abroad, the naturalization ceremony serves as a timely and important reminder of the themes expressed in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 speech and illustrated in Rockwell’s iconic paintings. Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms opens at the Caen Memorial Museum, in Normandy, France on June 6, marking the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
The Berkshire Immigrant Center, Literacy Network of South Berkshire, and the Berkshire Community College Adult Learning Program work closely with the county’s immigrants on their journey toward citizenship. The Berkshire Immigrant Center guides immigrants through the entire application process, helping them to navigate complex legal and administrative procedures. Michelle Lopez, Executive Director of BIC explains, “It is an honor for all of us at the Berkshire Immigrant Center to be a part of our clients’ journeys to citizenship, there is no greater reward for us at BIC than to share in this celebration with them. We cannot wait to welcome everyone being sworn in as new U.S. citizens on June 14th!”
The Adult Learning Program supports immigrants in their study of the English language, and the Literacy Network provides one-on-one tutoring to help immigrants study for the naturalization exam. The Executive Director of the Literacy Network, Jennifer Vrabel remarked, “We are thrilled that the new Keator Family Scholarship can help make navigating the long and challenging naturalization process easier for new Americans,” noted Literacy Network Executive Director Jennifer Vrabel. “We salute the dedication and hard work of the immigrants who will be naturalized on June 14, and we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the new citizens and their families.”
BCC President Ellen Kennedy echoed Vrabel’s comments, adding: “The BCC Adult Learning Program is an important program in our community. It helps provide students with the skills they need to succeed in their educational or employment goals. The College is proud to celebrate our students as they take part in this naturalization ceremony at the Norman Rockwell Museum.”
For the fourth year, the ceremony will be presided over by the Honorable Joan M. McMenemy, First Justice of Berkshire County Juvenile Court. U.S. Supervisory Immigrations Services officer Corey Elya will serve as the Master of Ceremonies with remarks from Laurie Norton Moffatt, , Director/CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum, Michelle Lopez, Executive Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center, Jennifer Vrabel, Executive Director of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, and Ana Suffish, Director of the Berkshire Community College Adult Learning Program. Color guard will be provided by the Williamstown American Legion Post 152, with singer Lina Orozco Grillon and pianist Karen Tchougourian performing music during the event.
Priority seating is given to new citizens and their families; Museum visitors are welcome to observe the ceremony based on space availability. A reception will follow for new citizens and their families on the Museum’s terrace.
The ceremony and reception are presented with the generous support of Berkshire Bank Foundation, Greylock Federal Credit Union, and Campoli, Monteleone & Mozian, P.C., The Matthew and Hannah Keator Family Foundation; Donated goods and services have been provided by several community businesses. Support for the event and the efforts of the partner organizations is encouraged, and can be arranged by contacting the Museum at 413.931.2221.