August 25, 2016 - 2:40 PM
KELOWNA – Close to 100 people from around the world graduated from a summer program run by Kelowna volunteers that’s filling a gap left by government cuts.
The program, run by dozens of volunteer teachers, tutors, daycare workers and a very busy bus driver, helped more than 100 students continue to learn a language so essential to integration.
On Thursday, Aug. 25, a group of adults and, kids and teenagers met at Evangel Church on Gordon Avenue for a graduation ceremony and pot luck. They came from countries like Syria, Thailand, China, Japan and Germany.
Evangel pastor Irv Cordes says it took the cooperation of a whole consortium of churches, including Baptist, Pentecostal, United, Mormon, Alliance, Muslim, as well as secular organizations, to make up for a lack of funding provided for language lessons for anyone looking to improve their English.
“It’s been amazing,” he says. “It really was a community effort to fill a void.”
The program started in June and cost an estimated $22,000 in volunteer services and funds raised from the community.
“There was really no ESL option over the summer,” Cordes says. “So ourselves and a number of churches all got together and created this.”
Cordes says while he expects funding to resume in the fall, they are prepared to extend the program into the future.
“It’s so important,” he says. “Language is absolutely central to integration.”
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