Steve Shipp, Nominator
Manny Wong leads the way to the American Dream every day. In the past 20 years, he has helped thousands of people navigate the lengthy, stressful naturalization process to become U.S. citizens. Manny spends 30 to 40 hours every week helping others achieve the simple yet complex goal of naturalization. In order to better help those seeking citizenship, he taught himself six different Asian languages and Spanish. In return, all he asks is that they believe in the oath they must take to become an American. His patriotism is fierce. When they arrive for their swearing in ceremony at the Sandra Day O’Conner courthouse, Manny is often there and sings I’m Proud to be an American in a cappella. When he does, there isn’t a dry eye in the house.
But Manny’s mission doesn’t end at the courthouse. He continues to help each individual adjust to American life. He regularly provides financial advice, offers to make business connections, and even guides new citizens to the appropriate sources when they have personal problems. Those who know him describe him as the “happiest person they have ever met.” According to Wong all the time and energy is well worth it. “When I walk down the streets of South Phoenix, people say ’Hi Manny‘, you were there when I got my citizenship‘ and that is music to my ears.”