One of the mothers in our Mom and Tot program, Maria, was recently selected to speak at the “Reception to Present the Current Success, Programs and Innovations of The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy in Southwest Florida.” She was asked to write and present a brief speech about her story and how Grace Place and the Barbara Bush Foundation have offered her the invaluable opportunity to learn English. She had to present the speech entirely in English; her native language is Spanish. Maria has been in our Mom and Tot program for two years now and has made remarkable progress in that time. Here is her speech:
“Hello, thank you for coming tonight. My name is Maria and I am a mother of four. I am from El Salvador and I have lived in the United States for 13 years.
In my country I completed 9th grade, and could not afford to pay for High School, so I went to the Police Academy. Life in El Salvador was very difficult and my family and I lived through the civil war that destroyed my country. In 2000, my brother helped me move to the United States.
When I first came I didn’t speak English, I didn’t understand anything or anyone, and everything scared me. But, I came hoping to earn more money to help my son, that I had to leave behind, and my mother.
Last year I came to Grace Place looking for an English class, and they told me about the Mom and Tot Program. I started studying for 2 hours a day on Mondays and Wednesdays. Now, thanks to the Barbara Bush Foundation, I study for 3 hours a day from Monday to Thursday. My daughter and I are able to study together and then apart, so that I can learn the English that I need. I thank God for the Barbara Bush Foundation for helping me feel happier and more confident. I can help my children with their homework and I’m ready and able to find a better job.”
The Barbara Bush Foundation was so impressed; they have asked Maria to return to tell her story at the upcoming Celebration of Reading event, February 14th at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point.