María has been connected to La Casa for over 17 years. Her first time at La Casa was driven by sheer curiosity. “I was taking a walk and as I walked past La Casa Hogar, I walked in to see what it was all about. After that first visit, I did not come back to La Casa until about 5 years later when my oldest child was about 3.” When Maria and her husband came to the States, they had no family which made Maria feel very alone. “At La Casa I found a warm and welcoming place, La Casa became my family.” Maria attended English classes, both of her children were enrolled in La Escuelita and she is now enrolled in Citizenship classes.
In her home country, Maria was an elementary school teacher for over 20 years. After having attended classes she became a volunteer. In 2018 she volunteered to teach Spanish Literacy to adult women who did not get the privilege to learn to read and write in their own country. Maria brings an incredible amount of skill and passion for Spanish literacy from her years of experience as an elementary school teacher. La Casa is honored to partner with women like Maria who invest in their neighbors to transform lives and our Yakima Valley.
At La Casa, we believe that every child deserves the right to equal access to early childhood education. La Escuelita is open to children like Millie who would not otherwise have that opportunity. Her mom Rubisela Fombona has been connected to La Casa for over 10 years. Milly has been connected to La Casa since she was literally in her mother’s womb, attending classes with her mom. When Milly was finally old enough to attend La Escuelita at two years old, she quickly acclimated to the rhythm and routines of La Escuelita.
Because of La Escuelita, she was able to develop the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in kindergarten. Milly is bright, resilient, and ready to take on the world. Fall of 2019, Milly transitioned successfully into kindergarten and her teachers at La Escuelita could not be more proud. Here is what Cecilia (ELC Program Coordinator) had to say about Milly.
“Ella hacía sentir bien a todos los que estuvieran a su alrededor y siempre decía la verdad de lo que pensaba y sentía. Recuerdo una vez que dijo; ” Okay, yo soy amiga tuya, y tuya, y tuya y tuya también, todos somos amigas, y los amigas no se pelean y no se enojan con las amigas de tus amiga, porque todas somos amigas”
Milly está lista y capacitada para navegar en el kinder sin temor. Ella está hambrienta de aprender más y de demostrarlo. Ésta es socialmente y emocionalmente competente, lo que le abre las puertas para aprender y desarrollarse académicamente.”
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.” This unknown quote is a remainder of the difference that volunteers at La Casa make in our Yakima Valley every day. Ulla is passionate about her role as a Citizenship volunteer. As a naturalized citizen herself, she understands how intimidating this process can be. She works diligently with students to ensure that they have a complete understanding of the interview process. She helps them gain the confidence they need to be successful in gaining citizenship. Ulla has partnered with her neighbors for over 3 years. La Casa is thankful for Ulla and over 80 other volunteers that partner with their neighbors yearly to gain more than citizenship and language skills, but to build community and transform our Yakima Valley.
Who ever said 80 is too late to start a new venture has obviously never met Juanita. At well over 80 years old Juanita continues to pursue new things. She has attended English classes at La Casa and became a naturalized US Citizen in 2018. At first Juanita was not successful, but her tenacious spirit and determination helped her through the naturalization process. She did not give up. After her third attempt at her naturalization interview, Juanita succeeded to obtain her citizenship certificate. What a day of celebration that was! The entire team of staff, volunteers and fellow classmates at La Casa were all rooting for her. Juanita now has the opportunity to travel to Mexico as often and for as long as she wishes, a dream she has long awaited to fulfill.