EMPOWERING OUR COMMUNITY
READ Ottawa has served over 200 adult learners since our founding in 2009. The stories of our learners empowers us to continue working with Ottawa County to transform the lives of adults to improve their reading and language fluency.
Budha and Alice
Budha Chuwan arrived in the United States from Nepal with her family at the age of 17 and began working with READ tutor, Alice Mohr in 2013. Alice was a reading specialist for 30 years and recently retired.
Budha spoke very little English when she entered Grand Haven High School and was assessed at a 3rd grade reading level. After two years of tutoring Budha improved to a 6th grade level and now speaks English very well. Graduating from Grand Haven High School in January of 2015 she has worked full time at the Holiday Inn to help support her family. Alice and Budha have not limited their time together to reading. Alice has familiarized Budha with American cultural experiences: dining out, banking, budgeting, and having a pedicure and her hair cut in a salon. Alice even hosted a graduation open house for Budha.
Budha has a goal and Alice has helped make that goal achievable. She would like to become a cosmetologist. Together they researched the requirements to attend French Academy in Spring Lake. They rented the cosmetology book and have been reviewing the vocabulary all summer. Alice helped her fill out student aid applications and put her in touch with Sandy Huber of the Grand Haven Community Foundation Scholarship Fund. Budha was awarded a full Pell grant in addition to a grant from the community foundation. She began classes on August 30th, 2015 and will continue to work at the Holiday Inn as well as attend school. Without a vehicle she depends on a bike or Harbor Transit for transportation.
Alice has been more than a tutor; she is a mentor, a friend, and a second mother to Budha. They are mutually appreciative of each other and love working as a team, an amazingly dedicated and successful team.
Tulasi and Lorelle
Tulasi is now a United States citizen thanks to hard work and help from her READ tutor, Lorelle Sybsema. Tulasi came to Grand Haven with her husband and daughter from Nepal six years ago. For four years she has been working with her tutor to improve her English reading, writing and speaking skills. They meet weekly and read books about United States’ geography and history to not only learn English but learn more about America. They review words that Tulasi has trouble reading or understanding. They have read books about Helen Keller, the Civil War and the Star Spangled Banner.
Tulasi’s brothers, sister and parents all live and work in the Grand Haven area. She enjoys going to the beach, parks and shopping with her family.
Tulasi and her husband Gopi applied for citizenship in 2015 and then had six months to study for the test. Gopi works in the community and Tulasi helped him study for the test at night. Lorelle went with them to Detroit and they both passed the citizenship test with flying colors. They were sworn in as U.S. citizens in July in Kalamazoo.
Tulasi’s literacy goals continue to evolve with each obstacle she overcomes. Next on the list: getting her driver’s license and starting a job when her son starts school. Lorelle is going to empower her every step of the way to reach her literacy goals.
Diana and Mary
Diana Torres cannot stress enough how much her tutor, Mary Willink, has helped her, “Mrs. Mary is a wonderful teacher and always encouraging. She is like my angel and has made everything possible for me, I love her.” A native of Columbia, Diana has a degree in Communications and Journalism. Her husband’s job brought her to West Michigan in the spring of 2014. Diana hopes to secure employment in communications but has not been idle while waiting for her green card. She volunteers at Job Seekers, St. Patrick’s Hispanic MInistry, and has attended classes at MCC. Mary, who in her 38 year career has been an elementary school principal and taught English at all grade levels says, “I have great admiration and appreciation for Diana, she is highly motivated, curious, hard working and a joy to work with, she is bright and beautiful.”