Empowering Adult Learners through Literacy
It’s a scientific fact – giving feels good. Generosity reduces stress, fights depression – it’s even been shown to increase one’s lifespan. If you need an example of this, look no further than Siena Learning Center in New Britain, CT, and one of its most enthusiastic volunteers. Meet Jeanette Moretti, who has been tutoring there for about seven years. She started when she was 80 years old.
“I became a tutor at Siena Learning Center because my work at a local bank had caused me to be very involved in the community,” said Jeanette. “I retired at 62 and immersed myself in local politics and nonprofit organizations. This work made me more aware of the many needs in our area. Being a lifelong resident of New Britain, I wanted to give back. I felt like I still had something to offer at 80. I was strong in English language skills, so I decided to teach English. I found Siena through my local parish bulletin and liked the thought of the affiliation with the Dominican Sisters of Peace. My mother’s name was Domenica, so I thought it was a natural fit.”
Jeanette explains that she has found volunteering as a tutor a self-serving act. “Working as a tutor is mutually rewarding,” she said. “When my Learners say thank you, I also thank them. I find it fulfilling to help them by sharing my knowledge – and it’s fun! When my Learners are empowered by an expanded knowledge of language it feels
wonderful for me and for them.”
Many of the Learners at Siena Learning Center are immigrants who cannot read or write in English. Jeanette knows that what she is teaching them makes a real difference in their lives. “My Learners are often at a disadvantage while at work, or applying for a job, and even at the doctor, because they can’t fully and freely communicate. I feel good knowing that I am helping them with not just reading, but by imparting wisdom and important skills for life.”
More than giving her time and talent, Jeanette also financially supports the Learning Center. “I receive so much joy working at the Center that I want to give back. Because I teach there, I also know that the items that are supplied to the Learners for free, like books and resource materials, are not free for the Center. I am enough of a business person to know that a nonprofit cannot continue its good work without contributions.”
The results of the work done at Siena Learning Center can be amazing, Jeanette says as she talks about one of her
first Learners. “She told me that if it was not for Siena, she would not have had anything,” Jeanette said. “The reward
for my time with this Learner is that she went on to attend a community college and is presently working as a medical
professional. She made a better life for herself and her family.”
As the daughter of an Italian immigrant, Jeanette explains that she understands how immigrants suffered and struggled to learn in a new country. She recalls, “I worked with my mother when she studied for citizenship, and I remember our joy with her achievement.”
Jeanette feels so strongly about the good that Siena Learning Center does in the community that she joined
their Advisory Council. “I am helping Siena with introductions to the community and opening doors,” Jeanette said. Starting with the human connection between Tutor and Learner, Jeanette has moved to assisting Siena Learning Center build new connections that will help to improve the lives of more people in the New Britain area.
The Dominican Sisters of Peace sponsor three adult learning centers with the belief that education is the key to
success, improved quality of life and empowerment.