Beginning next week, Meet Each Need with Dignity will launch a recruiting drive to increase its staff of volunteers who teach English to adults.
MEND's goal is to add 20 or more volunteers to teach daytime and evening classes at its community center in Pacoima. It also is seeking six people to help students in the English as a Second Language computer lab.
The 11-week classroom and computer lab sessions offer more than just language lessons. Students learn U.S. history, culture and citizenship. They also learn how to properly answer telephones, fill out forms and use community resources, said MEND Learning Center coordinator Blanca Nolledo.
In 1996, more than 1,300 new and returning students took the classes, assisted by volunteers who provided 2,300 hours, Nolledo said. Many students use skills learned in the classes to find work through MEND's job-placement program.
"Our students include men and the heads of households who work in the daytime, as well as women who are housewives and want to seek work," said Nolledo, who learned English after arriving in the U.S. from the Philippines. "However, first they have to learn enough English so they can read or understand instructions they might receive on the job.
"When we know the same language, we are drawn together by universal values and interests--and our universal need to communicate. Learning English helps create a more cohesive community for all of us," she said.
Last year MEND distributed food, clothing and furniture, and provided medical care, computer training and English instruction to about 130,000 Valley residents.
English classes begin Jan. 6. For more information about volunteering, call Nolledo at (818) 894-1456.