Breaking Bread Together
We hope we started a few ripples last week at our annual spring luncheon, Breaking Bread Together.
Hosted at the Solarium in Decatur on April 14th, Breaking Bread had two main goals: to celebrate our volunteers and to highlight one of our unique programs. This year we put the spotlight on English at Home, an in-home, personalized volunteer tutoring program that helps new Americans learn English while making meaningful friendships that support their adjustment to a new life in America.
Breaking Bread attendees got a chance to learn more about the English at Home program – and see it in action. English at Home Coordinator Kelsey Smith had two live demonstrations running throughout the day with help from School Liaison Joshua William and AmeriCorps Member Aruna Shrestha. Attendees stepped into the role of a new student by participating in either Karen at Home or Nepali at Home roleplays. Can you write your name in Karen?
CEO Paedia Mixon, who began her service with new Americans as an English tutor, shared the big picture of the world’s displacement problem, and how creating a welcoming space locally can make a huge impact, one person and one family at a time:
“I learned that, they are smarter than me, braver than me, stronger than me and they made me a better person,” Paedia said about the family she worked with when she first began.
Kelsey shook things up when she took the stage speaking Russian – and speaking slower and louder when no one understood. She underscored the message the limited language capacity doesn’t equal limited intelligence, and it is important to treat everyone with respect and dignity. The new Americans served by tutors in this program have often survived incredible hardships, and we can help them adjust to their new environment.
Volunteer Ashley Hager, an attorney at Troutman Sanders and thought leader in our last newsletter, shared her experience as an English at Home tutor – which is a family affair for the Hager household.
Ashley works with Safia, a Congolese mother of five who cannot read or write in her native language, or in English. In the months Ashley has worked with her, Safia has learned to recognize her children’s names and 14 English letters – successes Ashley celebrates.
It is the small steps that matter, Ashley reiterated. The steps lead constantly to something bigger, and every success matters.
AmeriCorps member Grace Miner joined Kelsey along with Service and Volunteerism Manager Breauna Hagan to honor all volunteers in attendance with New American Pathways tote bags. Grace and Kelsey even personalized tote bags for English at Home volunteers by including books they could use with their students. This small token of our appreciation underscored the theme of the day: everything we do is made possible by our volunteers.
We thank our presenting sponsor Macy’s, Gold sponsor Adriana Varela, and Table sponsors Barnwell Consulting, LLC, Sam and Isabelle Moss, and Tom and Olga Rawls for their generous support of the event.