Assisting our refugee community

Newcomers to the Rock River Valley are improving their English and more easily communicating with their neighbors.

Thirty adults, all of them either new to America or struggling to speak the English language, walk into United Way’s 8th Avenue Strong Neighborhood House on a sunny and warm Saturday. Unsure of what to expect, they’ve been promised that teachers comfortable with speaking their native language — whether it be Swahili, Arabic, or even rough English — will be there to help them improve their English and language skills. The majority of the participants come from Congolese or Arabic backgrounds, and find it a daily struggle to accomplish even the most basic of tasks outside of their homes as they face exasperating language barriers.

But, because of you, those language barriers are being brought down, one week at a time. The teachers at the house, who are members of our community, are coordinated and paid through the work of United Way, all made possible by you, the donor. Over the course of 12 weeks, they teach between 25 and 32 immigrant adults every Saturday, providing practical knowledge of common objects and phrases. The teachers say weekly that they see a commitment to speaking English by the students, and a consistency in completion of their homework. They see first hand that the program is working.

Rock River Valley residents, who previously faced unimaginable obstacles every single day, can now better communicate with their neighbors, their children’s teachers, and their grocery store clerk. Their lives are measurably better, all because of you.