Live with Purpose - December 27, 2022
by Lindsay Hutter
People often speak of “making the national scene” or “arriving on the national stage.”
The last two months have felt like that for the Goodwin Living family. On December 1, the Goodwin Living Citizenship Program was one of four stories of impact featured at the Ad Council’s 68th Annual Public Service Award Dinner. Our story was one of four stories selected from throughout the entire United States.
Sit with that for a minute.
Goodwin Living is a regional senior living and healthcare services organization. We are not a national or global organization. Not a publicly traded corporation. Not an organization that would naturally jump to mind as an obvious choice for creating a program that would be selected as a national story of impact.
And yet… on December 1, Goodwin Living team member Ngoc Nguyen and Goodwin House Alexandria resident Sandy Connolly took the stage in front of an audience of more than 1,500 leaders in the advertising and marketing fields, who attended the Ad Council’s annual awards dinner. Ngoc and Sandy shared the story of Ngoc’s journey to becoming a U.S. citizen, Sandy’s tutoring of Ngoc (with help from fellow resident Sue Cook), and the framework for the Goodwin Living Citizenship Program.
This story is one of dreams coming true. Ngoc took risks to pursue her dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. She found support for that pursuit through the Goodwin Living Citizenship Program, which led her to work with Sandy and Sue to prepare for her exams. Ngoc is one of more than 100 others who have participated in the program since it launched in 2018.
Ngoc’s story exemplifies what makes this program truly special, why it matters and how it caught the attention of the Ad Council, which has a long history of supporting public service.
The history of the Ad Council and its championing of social good dates to 1941, when James Webb Young, cofounder of the Young and Rubicam advertising agency, conceived the idea of the council. As told on the Ad Council’s website:
“Young addressed giants of the advertising industry—among them Raymond Rubicam, J. Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett—to propose an organization that could bring the entire advertising industry together in service of social good. Just three weeks later came the attacks on Pearl Harbor, and The War Advertising Council was created as a national nonprofit organization. Following World War II, President Truman asked the Ad Council to continue its work as a peacetime public service organization addressing the most pressing social issues of the day. Whether it was fighting Polio, preventing AIDS, responding to September 11th, or providing critical information during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ad Council has continued to produce impactful public service engagement campaigns that raise awareness, inspire action and save lives.”
Fast forward to today. The world still needs social good and the courage of individuals and organizations to come together to inspire hope and a spirit of serving together.
The short answer is this: The Goodwin Living Citizenship Program is a vision that Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads resident Rita Siebenaler presented to the Goodwin Living Foundation in 2018. Thanks to Rita, generous donors to the Goodwin Living Foundation, team members who applied for citizenship grants and residents and team members who tutored them, the rest is history.
In the program’s brief history, 134 grants have been awarded to team members and their family members who wish to pursue U.S. citizenship.
In two words, media coverage. The news media have taken an interest in the Citizenship Program as well as Goodwin Living’s focus on the vital role that immigrants play in the field of aging services and health care. Top tier media outlets such as Politico, The Washington Post and Voice of America have each explored these topics.
Earlier this fall, Goodwin Living received a phone call from the Ad Council. Council executives were scouting for stories of impact, and they had read the media coverage of the Goodwin Living Citizenship Program. Following interviews, the Ad Council selected the Citizenship Program as one of its four 2022 stories of impact.
To say that we were honored, humbled and thrilled is an understatement!
This selection set in motion a whirlwind of activities, including several days of an Ad Council production and film crew on site at Goodwin House Alexandria. The crew took time to capture the story of Ngoc and Sandy. Then came planning for Ngoc and Sandy to participate on stage at the Ad Council awards gala.
Following a video that told the story of how Ngoc embarked on her personal journey to citizenship, how Sandy provided her with tutoring, and the support of the Goodwin Living Citizenship Program, Ngoc and Sandy appeared on stage to share personal reflections on their experience. They even preceded the individual honoree of the evening, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon!
“The journey to become a U.S. citizen is a long journey. It requires paperwork and much study,” said Ngoc. “Sandy made the journey shorter for me.”
“When Ngoc learned she passed the citizenship exam, she called to say ‘Mrs. Connolly, I passed!’ and I cried then as I could cry now,” said Sandy. “I was so proud of her, and she was so proud of herself.”
Like many of our team members, Ngoc came to America to create opportunities for her children. Ngoc wanted her children to receive an American education and become U.S. citizens. That was her dream.
At Goodwin Living, thanks to the generous donors to the Goodwin Living Foundation (which funds the program) and thanks to residents and team members who tutor employees for the citizenship exam, dreams come true.
On December 1, a woman who had the courage to leave her homeland to pursue a dream found herself on a national stage telling her story of courage. That very same night, another woman found herself by her side, telling the story of how much older adults contribute to the lives of others.
We dedicate the remarkable honor that the Ad Council has bestowed upon the Goodwin Living Citizenship Program to Rita Siebenaler, Ngoc Nyugen, Sandy Connolly and the donors to the Goodwin Living Foundation who support the Citizenship Program.
Lindsay Hutter is the daughter of a mother and father who survived the Great Depression, World War II and the loss of family and friends. Throughout their lives, they unfailingly chose to construct rather than destruct and to leave people and places better than they found them. Lindsay strives to follow in her parents’ footsteps. Since 2017, she has served as Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer for Goodwin Living Incorporated.