I look back to 11 years ago when I didn’t know English and was working in a restaurant. Now I am a business owner, doing what I was meant to do. Cape Fear Literacy Council gave me the place to learn and gave me confidence. -Jean Pierre “JP” Saintard
At Cape Fear Literacy Council, we help adults transform their lives through the power of education.
Each year, about 500 diverse learners with real-life challenges participate in our programs for Adult Literacy and English as a Second Language (ESL). Our capable staff and volunteer tutors personalize instruction so students can achieve their goals.
A great example of the literacy council’s impact is Jean Pierre “JP” Saintard, a personal trainer who owns the business, RipXfit. His success story centers around hard work and determination.
JP earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and was a personal trainer for four years in his Chile, his native country. But when he came to America, he – and potential employers – found his English skills were “definitely not good enough for interacting with clients.”
He got a job bussing tables – a position that didn’t require him to speak English – and started looking for classes.
At the literacy council, JP was impressed by the dedication and knowledge of volunteer teachers. He intensively attended classes, but it wasn’t easy.
“The hardest part of learning a new language is that you feel like a three-year-old again,” JP recalled. “You know so much but when you speak you sound like a child. You have to humble yourself and learn to embrace the new language.”
JP studied grammar in Bob’s class and conversational English with Page. As his confidence grew, he approached a local gym and they agreed to let him shadow trainers. He memorized certain phrases and went back to Page with specific requests for what he needed to learn. She tailored instruction to his profession and he practiced extensively.
Soon, JP was hired on as a trainer with the gym. Just five years later, he opened his own business, where he uses the English language all day to motivate and inspire others to accomplish their goals.
Cape Fear Literacy Council works. As Jean Pierre said, “Adults go to classes because they want to learn. CFLC gives them that opportunity.”
Another success story is Clyde Champion (left). Clyde was referred to the literacy council by Leading Into New Communities (LINC), a re-entry program for ex-offenders.
In the time he has been with the literacy council, he has proved to be truly inspiring.
Clyde has improved more than two full grade levels in his reading comprehension and continues to make progress academically. But perhaps even more importantly, Clyde has made his experience at the literacy council a stepping stone for a whole new and positive life-change.
He has graduated from LINC and was honored with a one-year Milestone Award. For the first time in 10 years, he got a job and has been able to maintain it for more than two years.
Clyde’s confidence has improved dramatically. He was chosen to be a model for the clothing store, Bloke - and our CFLC brochure! And he was able to achieve independent living and move into his own apartment.
Clyde is always a positive presence. He believes in giving back to his community and volunteers at a clothing resource center, as well as Art in Bloom. He also keeps a gratitude journal of his accomplishments and blessings, and is proud to share these achievements with his church.
His efforts continue to pay off for him. His tutor says it is a “privilege and an honor” to work with him.
Each adult learner at Cape Fear Literacy Council has his or her own story. We provide the educational resources and support for them to transform their lives.
Yasmin Tomkinson came to the Cape Fear Literacy Council as a volunteer tutor in 2002. It was a great experience, and she was very pleased to join the staff in 2004. She is now the Executive Director and enjoys working with adult learners and the volunteers who help them reach their goals. Yasmin studied Education and American History at Vassar College and got an MBA with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Boston University. She worked for education-focused non-profits in rural Utah, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Boston before moving to Wilmington.
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