Local volunteer wins Tony Gwynn Community All-Star Award

Sydney Mafong meets Manny Machado
Sydney Mafong meets Manny Machado
(Derek Mafong)

The San Diego Padres recently honored teen volunteer Sydney Mafong during pre-game ceremonies. Sydney, a ninth grade student at The Bishop’s School, received the Tony Gwynn Community All-Star Award for her work as a volunteer tutor with local nonprofit Pathways to Citizenship, according to a news release. Sydney says, “It was an experience I will always remember. I talked to Manny Machado at 3rd base!”

Pathways to Citizenship, is a nonprofit based in Solana Beach dedicated to helping qualified immigrants from around the world navigate the complex legal and cultural pathways to U.S. citizenship. To learn more or to help a neighbor on the path to citizenship, visit pathwayssd.org.

The following is an excerpt from Sydney’s award-winning essay:

“I am extremely passionate about working with Pathways because all four of my grandparents are immigrants who took the naturalization interview to become US citizens... I have seen first-hand the struggles of immigrants in terms of limited access to education, a scarcity of job opportunities, difficulties in language and communication, and the loneliness and stress of living in a new community. Becoming a US Citizen is a huge source of pride and accomplishment... I am trilingual (Spanish, Mandarin, English), and it’s rewarding when I’m able to speak to immigrants in their native language as well as helping them with English. I specifically like working with Pathways because they are a smaller organization, so the class feels almost like a family. The tutors, staff, and students all have a special bond working towards a common goal. When one of our students becomes a citizen, it is a triumph for the entire group. As a high school student tutor, I feel privileged to work with the dedicated staff and volunteers at Pathways and the diligent students hoping for a better future.” Read Sydney’s full essay @ pathwaysSD.org/blog.

Pathways' volunteer Sydney Mafong and Pathways Executive Director Sonya Williams
Pathways’ volunteer Sydney Mafong and Pathways Executive Director Sonya Williams with Tony Gwynn Community All-Star Award recipients.
(San Diego Padres