Joyous reunion happens at Saint’s Place tutoring center
Two Afghani women recently stopped by the Saint’s Place tutoring program at Guardian Angels Church in Henrietta.
Both of them had been tutored by Saint’s Place volunteers when they were children, and now in their 20s, they came bringing a new student with them — the husband of one of the women. He had just arrived from Afghanistan to begin a new life in Rochester.
“They went on and on about how wonderful (Saint’s Place Founder Colleen Knauf) and the program were, and how much it helped them,” says tutoring manager Geri Dolan. The Afghani family wanted the new arrival to have the same tutoring experience that they had had.
“Their enthusiasm and gratefulness made our day,” Geri says.
A week later, the family returned to the tutoring program, and this time, they were reunited with long-time volunteer Mary Ellen Capineri. Mary Ellen had tutored another daughter in the family for seven years, from the time she was in the fifth grade until she graduated from high school. That young woman went on to attend Monroe Community College, get married and relocated to Australia. “I remember the family fondly,” says Mary Ellen, especially one of the daughters who started the tutoring program as a five-year-old.
“It was a joyous reunion with lots of hugs and catching up and exchanging of phone numbers,” Geri says. “It is always a gift to be able to see your former students and find out where their lives have taken them.”
The tutoring program is an important aspect of Saint’s Place ministry. Refugees need to learn English so they can assimilate, get an education, and get jobs. The program has been in existence for 20 years. Tutoring takes place from 4:45 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays at Guardian Angels Church in Henrietta and Thursdays at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Spirit in Rochester.
If you are wondering about whether you are qualified to be a tutor, Geri says tutors come from a variety of backgrounds and ages and include high school and college students. Prospective tutors fill out paperwork and must take CASE (Creating a Safe Environment) online training as required by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester.
To learn more about volunteering, call Saint’s Place at (585) 358-6860 or fill out an online form here: https://saintsplace.org/contact-us