Virginia Mendez, one of our Mom and Tot Literacy students, was asked to share her story with the Greater Naples Leadership at an event this morning!  Virginia orated the below speech entirely in English, her second language!


Good morning!  I am honored to be here and to be able to share my story with you.


My name is Virginia Mendez I am 38 years old, and I was born in Monterrey, Mexico.    I came to the United States 13 years ago, and from the moment I came here I have tried to take advantage of every moment as an opportunity to learn and to better prepare myself for the future.


I met my husband, Fortino Mendez, 7 years ago.  We have four children.  The oldest is Gael who is 6.  He has three other siblings – Maria Galilea who is 4, Daniel who is 3, and Victoria who is 16 months.

I first came to Grace Place about four years ago with my son, Gael, looking for English classes.  Finding a place to study was very difficult because I had a young child.    Grace Place was the only place where my son and I could study together.  I started with Bright Beginnings 101 and I am proud to say every one of my children has participated in a Grace Place Program.

After coming to class with Gael I felt more prepared when I had my other children.  I knew what they should be doing at every age.  The lessons that I have received here are priceless.  They’re not just for me because behind me there are four more!  Even though sometimes I feel a lot of pressure, I know that you have to work hard for the things you want, and it is worth the effort.

Right now my daughter Victoria and I are in the Mom and Tot Literacy program. We come four days a week and we are able to study together and then apart. While I am in English class she is able to play with other children her age.

Also, citizenship has always been a goal of mine, so I come back to Grace Place on Thursday evenings to study for my test.  I am confident that soon I will be an American citizen.

I love to learn and I want to know everything.  I believe that the more prepared I am, the more prepared my children will be.  Grace Place has taught me to be more open-minded and I always share what I have learned here with others.

I want to thank all those that have donated their time to me, my family, and to Grace Place, I value that with my heart.  God bless you all.


“Virginia did a fantastic job this morning speaking to almost 50 business professionals and community leaders! She is a great ambassador for why family literacy is so important and is the key to a better future for children and families at-risk, and for our whole community,” commented Stephanie Munz Campbell, Grace Place Executive Director, who accompanied her to the event.