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  1. #1
    keekee's Avatar
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    Jan 1970
    S.E. Michigan


    Taken from The Toledo Blade of August 7, 2010

    MILLER CITY, Ohio - Thirteen-year-old Jose Cantu knows that education is the key to unlocking his dream: He wants to be an architect.

    For six weeks this summer, while other kids were out playing baseball or swimming, Jose voluntarily sat in a classroom and worked diligently to improve his English-language skills.

    "I can speak better English now. I know how to pronounce my words. And you get to meet new friends," Jose said, smiling.

    Classmate Heydi Valareal, 12 nodded. Her goal is to go to college and become a nurse.

    Both are children of migrant workers. Their families travel back and forth from Texas to Ohio each year, depending on the crops to be planted or plucked.

    To help the children improve reading and comprehension skills, the Putnam County Educational Service Center runs a summer program, and the Toledo-based Sisters of Notre Dame helps, recruiting high school and college-aged girls to volunteer as mentors and teachers' assistants.

    "It helps them a lot for reading," Jose's mother, Maria Luisa Aguilar, 33, said of the optional program her children attend. "They like it. They learn to read and they also have a lot of fun activities for the kids. They take them swimming and they go to the [Toledo] Zoo."

    Sister Susan Marie Reineck, a Notre Dame nun who teaches during the school year in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., has been helping the Putnam County program for about a dozen years.

    She recruits high school and college girls, mostly from the Toledo area but also from as far away as Florida, to donate a week of their summer to helping migrant children. The girls stay at St. Mary's Convent in nearby Leipsic, Ohio, and pay $50 to help cover meals and transportation expenses.

    Sister Susan said most girls who volunteer say they did so because they like working with children and want to contribute to society. Notre Dame nuns are big education advocates, she said, and she believes the migrant program has a spiritual component.

    "In our Catholic faith, we look at the life of Christ and we see how Christ brought love to our world in service, by serving others and showing us how to live our lives more lovingly," Sister Susan said.

    Among the 25 volunteers who took turns this summer spending a week in Miller City - a tiny town of 173 residents about 50 miles southwest of Toledo - were Grace Dillon, 17, a senior at Bedford High School, and Julia DeLapp, 17, of Sylvania, a senior at Notre Dame Academy.

    They said the program has made them count their blessings.

    "I definitely feel so much more grateful to have such a good education year-round," Grace said. "These kids are constantly traveling. So I'm grateful for what I have."

    "You realize how blessed you really are," Julia said. "The church is all about community, and community's not just the area around you but it's all mankind. So helping out your community and all mankind is really a part of the church that helps you grow closer to God. I think it's one of the best ways to grow in your faith."

    Jack Betscher, migrant director of the Putnam County Educational Service Center, said the program and its employees rely heavily on the Notre Dame nuns and the girls who volunteer.

    "They supplement what the classroom teachers do, and without Sister Susan and her volunteers, this particular segment of the program would not even be a fraction as robust as it is," he said.

    The migrant students are tested for language proficiency before and after the six-week sessions, and the progress made is often significant, Mr. Betscher said. "Most of our students come to us, as a rule, a year or two behind grade level, and many times we can get them up to grade level by the end of the summer," he said.

    Baldemar Velasquez, founder of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee and a tireless champion for migrant workers, said programs like Putnam County's are doubly beneficial to migrant families."The summer education program for those kids is just invaluable, not only to keep them current with their learning skills, but to keep them out of the fields," he said.

    Mr. Betscher said some migrant children attend a half dozen schools in one school year as their parents travel to find work. A large number of the Miller City students are from Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, as well as Ohio and Michigan.

    The girls who volunteer spend between 30 and 40 minutes iin one-on-one mentoring sessions with the students, then assist the teachers in the classroom.

    "When they do the one-on-one interaction with students, it helps the teacher work with the students that have greater learning difficulties," Mr. Betscher said.

    Shannon Nadler, 19, of Leipsic, a sophomore pre-med student at Ohio Dominican University, volunteered a week in 2009 and returned this summer. "I just really enjoy working with the kids. I get a lot out of just helping them. And it feels good to give back to my community," she said.

    This is the second straight year for Autumn Setzler, 18, of Fremont. "I think it's important to serve others," she said. Her experience with migrant children has inspired her to pursue a double major in social work and Latin American studies at Ohio University.

    "I don't think people treat migrants how they should be treated or recognize how much they are doing for our country," she said. "They're not coming here to steal our money, they just want a better life. When people meet migrants face to face it changes their perspective."

    Contact David Yonke at:
    or 419-724-6154.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Richard's Avatar
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    Apr 2005
    If the migrant workers are citizens or legal immigrants this is a good thing.
    I support enforcement and see its lack as bad for the 3rd World as well. Remittances are now mostly spent on consumption not production assets. Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Apr 2006
    Richard wrote:
    "If the migrant workers are citizens or legal immigrants this is a good thing."

    Richard is right. Before our government stopped enforcing our laws of immigration, most agricultural "migrant workers" in the United States were U.S. citizens.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2006
    TEXAS - The Lone Star State
    so since most migrant workers are latino. this means they offer only help to spanish speaking? or are there classes for other languages, too

  5. #5
    Senior Member HoosierLady's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
    Gee, I wonder how these nuns feel since a drunken illegal crashed into and killed one of their sisters and injured two more.

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