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This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

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Three groups of extraordinary local volunteers have been working together to assist adult immigrants gain the skills needed to become US citizens. The WORD Project ESL, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and Cooley Law School volunteers have been helping adult immigrants with the paperwork for citizenship tests. The project has assisted thirty people on the road to citizenship, and eight have become United States citizens in the past year.

For those interested in attending classes at St. Joseph the Worker Parish (225 32nd Street) on Tuesday nights, call Val Scheid at 456-7982. Call Juanita Garcia at 233-0652 to register for classes at Steepletown Center (671 Davis NW). Steepletown classes begin on Wednesday, September 23, 2009. Their hope is to make the classes ongoing so interested persons can join now or later.

Justice for our Neighbors (JFON-West Michigan) began in 2004 at Grand Rapids First United Methodist Church. Cooley Law School has been a part of the Grand Rapids academic scene since 2003, and the Writing Opportunities Reading Discoveries (WORD) Project began in September of 1998 through the support of the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids. The WORD ESL project is currently under the direction of Sister Carmen Rostar (standing in photo).

Sister Rostar sees the program increasing in size and improving in quality with the inclusion of a variety of teaching methods and a steady increase in the numbers of adult learners. She gratefully says that this collaborative effort would never have happened without the assistance of several volunteers from JFON, WORD and Cooley Law School.

If you are interested in volunteer opportunities or if you wish to enroll in classes through the WORD Project ESL, call 454-4874.

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