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February 28, 2012

Adult Education’s Transition into the New Education & Technology Center

The Adult Education program has been operating in the new Education & Technology Center for one full week and these are some of my observations. Big changes, even when the changes are exciting and welcome improvements, make people anxious, me included. After a couple of missteps I reminded myself to take deep breaths and to enjoy the process of growth and expansion. I reminded myself that a successful transition would take weeks and months as we discover how best to inhabit and make the best use of this beautiful new facility. Where to place my desk, my photocopier and my files, how to best accommodate students and volunteer tutors and, after hundreds of phone calls, who would attend tutoring on our first day of expanded services? I reminded myself that all these questions would be answered without my worry. Besides, my desk is still in the warehouse and I work just fine off of a portable table.

I love my old photocopier like you love an old and beloved wreck of a car, it’s an emotional attachment. Early on the first day I was beginning to think I’d need to place a service call because my tired and old machine refused to make more than 2 or 3 copies without a jam. Just at that minute a tech walked through the door with a brand new machine and I immediately forgot any love I had for the old copier.

Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ Adult Education program served 70 students with the invaluable support of 19 volunteers on our first day in the Education & Technology Center. We had room to breathe and did not have to use an overflow setting for tutoring. Some blessings are bigger than others! There was a late change to our furniture order so the cubicles for our tutoring room have not been delivered yet and students and tutors also work just fine off of a portable table. They had books and pens and pencils, calculators, erasers and most importantly they had each other. The cubicles will come without my worry.

To me, providing service in the Education & Technology Center compared to providing service in the old red brick CLC, the small facility that used to house Adult Education, feels like the difference between a Korean War MASH unit and a 21st Century ICU. Lives were saved in the old MASH units and lives were changed in the old red brick CLC, often with laughter and occasionally with tears and sometimes against the odds. But the need is enormous and so much more can be accomplished. The expanded services we will be able to provide in our new facility will touch thousands of families and often more than one generation. We will continue to laugh and sometimes cry and continue to learn. I have memories to cherish from the CLC but my hope lies firmly in the future we may craft in the Education & Technology Center.

Hour by hour I become more and more grateful for the opportunity the Education & Technology Center gives us to improve the lives of our students. When I slow down and look at their faces, I think our students and volunteers agree.

Submitted by Kelley Jones, Adult Education Program Assistant

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