One of the most positive and exciting endeavors at Saint’s Place is our Tutoring Program, which has been assisting, guiding and teaching refugee adults and children for over fifteen years. The dedicated volunteers, under the amazing leadership of Geri Dolan, have truly made a significant difference in the lives of refugees. Geri has enlarged, enhanced and guided the program. Her tireless efforts have ensured the success of so many refugees.
Marvelous success stories are happening every day at the tutoring program, i.e. refugees are passing their citizenship exams, qualifying for better jobs because they now speak English, students are being accepted at colleges, students are graduating from colleges, and grade school students are learning to read. All these accomplishments - large and small – are occurring on a weekly basis.
Recently, two young boys, one from Iraq and one from Somalia, were hesitant to start our tutoring program. They initially were afraid, and not very willing to participate. At times there were even tears. A tutor remembered that we just received new pajamas donated by a company in New York City, and she quickly presented the boys each with a pair of super hero pajamas and the smiles and laughter started. This seemingly little act of kindness made a huge difference. It opened the door to the beginning of an educational opportunity that was sure to influence the rest of their educational days.
The reality is that the refugees must assimilate, must learn English, get jobs and ensure that their children are succeeding in school. In order to break the chain of poverty, which surrounds the refugees, learning English, staying in school, and becoming citizens are key to their future success.