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Ministry Partner: Learning and Loving Education Center

Ministry Partner: Learning And Loving Education Center

In keeping with our mission as Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our congregation directs a portion of its financial resources toward external ministries like the Learning and Loving Education Center in Morgan Hill, Calif. We fund BVM sisters and others who engage in the work of “helping others enjoy freedom in God’s steadfast love.”

In more than 20 years, the Center has helped thousands of immigrant women overcome barriers to language, education, employment, literacy, and health care.

“The Center embodies the BVM core values of education and freedom,” writes BVM Ann Marie Dress in her referral. “Through the education received, the clients who live in poverty become free and in turn many come back to support those who are still part of the program.”

IMPACT: Esperanza’s Story

Esperanza Yanira Ayala is one of the thousands of women impacted by the Center. She now works as a language laboratory instructor at the Center and plans to obtain a master’s degree. This is her story in her own words:

Born and growing up in a very poor and underprivileged country like El Salvador where poverty and chaos of gangs and violence were present all time, it is difficult to maintain your feet on the ground. My mother who was a mother and father for me worked hard to instill in my siblings and me the importance of obtaining an education. Unfortunately, my mother did not have the resources to send all of us to college. In fact, sometimes I remember that she sent me to school exactly with only the money I needed to ride the bus, and many other times I had to ask one of my friends to pay for my ride on the bus because in my country we do not have public transportation to schools as in the United States.

My mother who was a mother and father for me worked hard to instill in my siblings and me the importance of obtaining an education.

Not having all the resources to complete my education and overcome all the financial problems, I stopped my education and began to work to help my mother with the family expenses. Although my education stopped, I always had a dream of becoming a psychologist and a proficient community advocate.

After getting support from the Learning and Loving Education Center, Esperanza (l.) now works there to help others succeed too. Photo courtesy of the Learning and Loving Education Center.

When I arrived in the United States, my first job was as a housekeeper in a hotel for four years. Then a wonderful woman named Lisa Martinez told me about the Learning and Loving Education Center. I decided to come to the Center in 2003 where I felt welcomed, supported and loved since day one. My experience and education in the Center gave me the support and power to further pursue my educational goals, and I decided to attend Gavilan Community College, but unfortunately, I had to go back to work to help my husband to sustain the family needs. I worked for six years at a clothing store, and I did not have the opportunity to go back to college because of the different schedules I had to work. Not only family necessities, but also the necessity to bring my oldest daughter from my country to the United States forced me to continue working.

I want to instill in my children and every woman I meet that we can do better.

When I was finally able to reunite with my daughter, I made up my mind that I needed more than getting a paycheck every two weeks to pay my bills. In 2009, I came back to the Center, and although I completed my high school in my country, I decided to do the GED. It took me five months to pass all the exams. To my surprise, I was awarded a $500 scholarship to continue with my education, and since that day I haven’t stopped.  When I began college in fall 2009, I was twenty-nine years old; married and with two daughters. I started college as an English as a Second Language student while working part-time to help my husband to sustain the family needs. It took me four years to complete all the requirements to graduate with an AA degree in Social Science Behavioral, and then I transferred to San Jose State University to pursue my career.

I graduated last year from San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

I want to instill in my children and every woman I meet that we can do better.

Students gather for pre-literacy class. Photo courtesy of the Learning and Loving Education Center.

I hope to lead by example that despite all the obstacles my children and every woman can encounter in the process they can achieve their dreams. Other motivations for returning to school were the enormous satisfaction to be the first generation in my family to attend college, and also my inability to obtain a job with a decent pay without a degree. Since I started college everything has changed for me and my family. I have had many opportunities to work in different settings such as a tutor and assistant at the Business Skills Center at Gavilan College.

Without your help and support I would not be here telling my story.

I also had the opportunity to be the orator at the ESL ceremony once I completed my classes, and I graduated with the Dean’s Scholar honor from San Jose State University.

Although being a mother, student, and employee is hard, I keep pushing forward to succeed every day because I know that is the only way to improve my family and my life. I never want to go back to my past life where my only dreams were to obtain my check and pay bills. Now I know what I want, and I will do everything in my power to succeed. Thank you Learning and Loving Education Center because without your help and support I would not be here telling my story.

To learn more about the Learning and Loving Education Center, visit www.learningandlovin.org.

MINISTRY PARTNERSHIP

Ministry Partnership Grants give financial assistance to projects and organizations with which BVMs or BVM associates have current firsthand knowledge of the project or ministry. The grants provide a means of BVM outreach to others according to our vision and values.

The BVM Sisters, “seek out and attend to those in need” through our investment ministry partnership grants. Join us in prayer for those who partner with us in ministry.

Funding for Ministry Partnership Grants is made possible through the BVM endowment fund.

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