Last night I attended a Christmas concert at a local church, and in the handbell choir I saw the bright, shining face of one of our tutors, ringing away. It struck me that I continually run into VEP tutors and students in various spots around Chester County.
Yet, when I mention the Volunteer English Program, people often ask, “What’s that?” and inquire about our work. This is seldom a short interchange, as people are quite inspired and intrigued. As our Executive Director Terri Potrako says, we are “Chester County’s best kept secret.” (We are working on being better known!) We do not have an advertising budget; our word is spread by active volunteers and by vital community partners like libraries, churches, community organizations, and the media.
VEP is actually everywhere around us. I go to the gym, and I am exercising next to several of our tutors. I think to myself, ‘that tutor is busy like I am, squeezing in a work-out before heading to the office, yet he gives his time to help someone.’ I push my grocery cart down the aisles of Shop Rite and spot tutors shopping for their family meals. My neighbor’s father was a volunteer with VEP for years. At the DMV, in the bookstore, at a restaurant… literally each week, I run into members of the VEP family.
Wouldn’t you like to know who our tutors are? If you could spot them, like on a page of Where’s Waldo, you might be amazed at the reach and depth of volunteerism represented. It could be the person in the cubicle next to you at work, or riding the elevator with you, or dropping off her child at the same day care center. And THAT is often our best advertising: tutors tell acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, friends and family about their transforming experience as a VEP volunteer.
We do have almost 50 students waiting for a tutor, and we have a Tutor Training Workshop coming up in January (click here for details). If our story appeals to you, please consider signing up for training and working with an adult who needs to learn English. If you are already a tutor, please spread the word with the person next to you, and recruit someone you know.
Our tutors and students (approximately 170) meet together all over the community in libraries, cafe’s, etc… They are out there, every day, probably somewhere very close to you, quietly carrying out our mission of teaching English to adult immigrants and refugees. And it is an inspiring and gratifying prospect to me, to know I live in a community where such an act is taking place, 170 times, twice per week. Won’t you make it 171?
by Patty Rappazzo Morgioni, VEP Program Coordinator