News & Blog

***

When Benjamin Murekezi and his family were able to leave their refugee camp in Rwanda and come to the United States, they were excited but also scared. “To just go and not to know where I am going” and to not know English worried this father of six. 

Written by Megan Bowers

Untitled_design_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy_copy.pngIn my role as a Literacy Coordinator at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, Conversation Club has been the greatest way for me to get to know learners on a personal level and really see their personality shine through. Conversational skills are often a struggle for second language learners who are suddenly thrust into an environment of native English speakers. That is why I love providing an opportunity for these learners to not only practice conversation with other English language learners, but also native English speakers. That’s why volunteer involvement is so important to the goals of Conversation Club. 

Written by Chad Patton, Customized Workplace English Director

When I first started working at the Literacy Center of West Michigan in 2015, it did not take long for me to figure out that adult literacy meant more than words. For many learners, literacy is about connection. Literacy is about doing that thing that they’ve been wanting to do for years; it’s about having a conversation with the person at the grocery store checkout; it's about reading to their grandchildren; it’s about being a part of their community in a way that makes them feel welcome. Literacy is about trust. 

The Literacy Center is partnering with several businesses and organizations in West Michigan to provide English as a Second Language (ESL) training for its employees.

Written by Jennifer Summers, CWE Coordinator

Donghee Kim and her husbandTroy,have brewed beer across the globe. The couple started a beer brewery in Donghee’snative South Korea. After some time there, they decided to move back toTroy’shometown of Rockford, Michigan, and start a brewery here. They opened the family business, Third Nature Brewing,to positive reviews from the local beer community

Written by Yilin Wendland-Liu, ATP Director

Hnin Kee is my learner. She is originally from Burma and has been in this country for almost two years. As a mother of four children, the three younger ones keep her busy every day, and more importantly, they keep her at home. 

Written by Carrie Roper, IET Coordinator

Cuban natives Barbara and Raul grew up in the same neighborhood in their home country, but they didn’t meet each other until they had both moved to the United States and had a chance encounter on Facebook. Not long after that, the couple found their way to West Michigan.

About: Dr. Soman earned her Ph.D. in chemistry at Purdue University and joined GVSU in the Chemistry Department in 2000.  Dr. Soman is currently the Dean of College of Education and Community Innovation and has served in a number of leadership roles during her career at Grand Valley State University, including Associate Vice President for Enrollment Development & University Registrar, Director of Financial Aid, Interim Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  

About: Sharron led the GRPS Human Resources & Legal Services Department. Sharron had over 23 years of experience working in a K-12 environment, having served as the General Counsel and Chief of Staff in a large urban school system prior to joining the GRPS team. Sharron has been a lawyer for 40 years specializing in the areas of school law, employment law and litigation.

About: Tim is a partner on the firm's Litigation and Trial Practice Team. His practice focuses on helping clients resolve business disputes, including complex commercial tort and contract litigation, supply chain disputes, trade secret and unfair competition matters, and corporate governance issues.

About: Deidra Mitchell serves as President & CEO of Waséyabek Development Company, LLC (WDC), a 100% Tribally-owned economic development entity of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP).

About: Lilibeth is the Lead Planner and Founder of Isabel Events & Design, LLC. She has more than 10 years of experience in association and non-profit management, marketing, communications, development and conference coordination.

Written by Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator

When asked about what motivates him, Kashindi, a father of eight, responds, “Right now, I’m parent for big family.” He continues, “[I’m] motivated to go to work. If not motivated, you cannot improve or prepare kids or family.” Kashindi and his family came to the United States as refugeesabout five years ago.

About: Suzette Hershman, MHA serves as SVP, Operations, Spectrum Health Medical Group, one of the largest and most comprehensive multispecialty physician groups in West Michigan. Spectrum Health Medical Group is part of Spectrum Health West Michigan, a not-for-profit integrated health system based in West Michigan.

Written by Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator 

The Literacy Center of West Michigan's Community Literacy Initiative (CLI) is winding down, but its collaborative work on literacy remains.  

By Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator

Jose is from a small agricultural community in Mexico. His family includes himself, his wife, and their two children, ages three and seven years old. His childhood consisted of studying and working to help his family. He came to the U.S. less than a year ago. It is his dream to, as he says, "Sacar a mi familia adelante" (Move my family forward).

By Cynthia Salinas, Communications Coordinator

“Left Mexico, good job, but I had to leave for my daughter,” Pilar shares. Pilar is a chemical engineer and a pedagogue in Mexico. However, her daughter’s heart conditions left her no choice, but to move to the U.S. to receive medical care.

The Literacy Center is pleased to announce Dr. Bree Straayer as the new director of the Family Literacy Program (FLP). FLP seeks to strengthen the communication and involvement of non-native-English-speaking parents with their child’s school and education.

About: Born in Detroit in 1956 and raised in Benton Harbor, David Edwards is a life-long Michigan resident.

Currently he and his wife Patricia live in a home on Lake Michigan in Douglas that Pat and David constructed following his 2019 retirement.

David earned a BA in Economics and an MBA in Finance prior to working 38 years for large, multi-national commercial banks and retired as Managing Partner and Head of West Michigan operations for Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).

About: Jeff worked for several years as a Lean Manufacturing consultant prior to joining Steelcase in 2000, where he has held several Finance positions in Manufacturing Operations, Supply Chain, Logistics, and Product Development. He is currently a Channel Manager and consult with our Dealer network to develop technology competencies for their businesses. Jeff holds his MBA from Western Michigan University and a Supply Chain Certification from MSU. He has led or volunteered for several organizations ranging from Habitat for Humanity to youth sports leagues. Jeff is grateful to have tutored learners and recruited tutors for LCWM. 

Sign up for our email newsletter

Get the latest word on upcoming events, opportunities and achievements, delivered straight to your mailbox.