“I thank my God whenever I think of you; and every time I pray for all of you, I pray with Joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the Good News from the first day you heard it right up to the present….You have a permanent place in my heart, and God knows how much I miss you all…My prayer is that your love for each other may increase more and more…so that you can always recognize what is best.” (Philippians 1)
The English Language School of the Catholic Worker House has been teaching English to adult women & men and tutoring children for over 20 years. At lest 15 volunteer teachers and a separate group of 15 tutors have shared their talents with the poor and they have become one of our most important works.
The following is written by Sr. Mary Jane Floyd who has been a teacher for over 65 years. Sr. Mary Jane and a group of about 5 other women organize the registration, teaching, tutoring and everything else that happens at our English Language School.
“Do You Remember Me?”
Last week a young woman and her mother came to the front door of our English Language School where I live. The young woman said to me, “Do you remember me?” Well, honestly I didn’t so I asked her to refresh my memory. What a wonderful surprise when she responded, “I’m Giovanna. You tutored me, my two sisters and my little brother.” Then it all came rushing back to me. Giovanna is now graduating from Cal Berkeley and going on to higher education. Her brother and sisters are also doing very well. Carmen, their mother, was inspirational. Every day after regular school she gathered up her children and brought them to the schoolhouse (we call it Joan’s House) for tutoring. She was so grateful for the help her children got because she had been unable to help them. English was hard for her and her own education was minimal.
They were in the neighborhood that day and Giovanna wondered if I, Mary Jane, were still around! By the grace of God I am! The house hadn’t changed much and I invited them back to the big room filled with children and tutors working together to do homework. In the midst of tears, Giovanna recognized her tutors Sid, Joe, and JoAnne. They had helped her and she called out their names. She thanked them and a few more tears were shed – all tears of happiness. It was a beautiful thing.
Each afternoon a different group of tutors come and they would all have been happy to see this young woman too. John Brey retired from tutoring last year. He began volunteering with us some twenty years ago and would have been proud, as would the many other tutors who have helped this family and so many many other children. It is a beautiful thing to see our tutors in a huddle discussing some math problem. It is a beautiful thing to see other tutors bringing books home to “catch up” to better teach our children. Our tutors, each and all, have touched the lives of our children in special ways. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing to see tutors showing kindergarten students how to read and running their fingers along with the child as they sound out the words.
This newsletter gives me the opportunity to mention the selfless work of our teachers who teach English to women and men at night. A wonderful community has happened and that too is a beautiful thing.
There are those donors who on a regular basis bring rice and beans or who bring school supplies or make donations of books to be used so that no one has to pay anything at our school. So many of you help from the goodness of your hearts. It truly is a beautiful thing.
Do we still need teachers and tutors? Yes, and we always will because no computer or other technological invention can take the place of the human, loving touch which is the most beautiful thing.
Sr. Mary Jane Floyd for all of us.
- FOOD in any amount.
- Household needs: shampoo and razors for hygiene kits, gallon size zip-lock freezer bags, bikes, locks and lights for bikes, sleeping bags, a trunk bike rack, large garbage bags, backpacks for Sept. when school starts, and detergent.
- Cars, bikes, RVs, trailers, trucks (3/4 ton pick up is needed).
4. We have some major work to be done on our home for Day Laborers. We need a volunteer contractor or carpenter. Call Larry 650-366-4415.
5. A house or money to buy a house for another Catholic Worker center.
6. Check out www.rwdcw.wordpress.com for current stuff on us.
7. Your ongoing love and support. Again this year we will offer scholarships of up to $2,000 to individual college students.
If you can, help call Larry (650) 366-4415.