Follow fun updates as well as interesting stories about clients, volunteers and supporters of SFBFS

June 29, 2015

Insight into ESL

My name is Phoebe Neuburger and I am a Global Studies student in my senior year at Whittier College in Los Angeles. This summer I was able to do my internship in Adult Education and in Refugee Resettlement Services at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS). Volunteer service at SFBFS is a tradition in my family. Last summer I enjoyed volunteering at a food distribution and also in SFBFS’ Youth Education summer camp working with young kids. My mom volunteers as a tutor in the evenings in Adult Education where she helps students prepare for the GED exam. I joined my mom one evening last summer and I remember I really liked it. The feeling of helping others gave me a sense of purpose and I enjoyed the feeling. I was hoping my internship at SFBFS would give me a better idea of what I might want to do in my life in relation to helping people.

My internship at SFBFS has been a truly memorable experience. I was able to observe and participate in (sometimesJ) the advanced level ESL class. The ESL classes offer students an opportunity to learn and/or improve their English language speaking, reading and writing skills. The advanced class offer adults the opportunity to improve their English fluency and advance to better jobs or community college. I was able to observe and interact with a diverse group of adults and it was amazing to see how motivated every student is about accomplishing their goals. Everyone has a unique story of how he or she arrived in the U.S.

I have heard English is one of the hardest languages to learn, especially when you are an adult. All the students I met were enthusiastic and grateful learners. I was adopted from Vietnam as an infant and the ESL students reminded me of how much easier it is to learn English as a small child. I was lucky to have been young enough to learn English as a young person compared to immigrants who come from different countries and learn English as adults. As a young girl I tried pushing myself to learn English but even so, I soon lost interest and wanted to give up. The ESL students I met have inspired me and helped me see what I could improve in my own life and helped me to reflect on myself and my future. Many of the students are parents learning English for themselves, but also for their children. Without sharing a common language with your community, life is much harder.

The advanced ESL class that I observed was taught by a friendly, enthusiastic teacher named Stuart Schulz. He is a high-energy and funny teacher in every class he teaches. He was joking and laughing with his students and I could see the close bond between teacher and student. I saw how the classroom did not have to be a serious learning environment all the time. I liked the relaxed environment of the classroom and the main office of SFBFS itself. It was great how friendly and welcoming everyone was to me throughout my internship. I enjoyed the class and laughed right along with students. I felt like I was part of the class. I thought it was heartwarming when Stuart talked about his students as if they were his own family. I could see that the fun and upbeat classroom environment brought out the personalities in all the students. The students seemed to love to come to class and to learn every day. They came prepared and they came with big smiles on their faces. It is one of the best memories of my internship at SFBFS.

Submitted by: Phoebe Neuburger, SFBFS intern

June 24, 2015

The Summer Jungle!

It’s definitely summer in the garden. How do I know? Oh, I have a mental checklist and once I can say YES to every list item, I know its summer. A few things on the list:

  • Can you barely walk past the squash plants without stepping into the adjacent garden beds?
  • Have the harlequin beetles returned to feast on the tree collards?
  • Are you beginning to find foot-long cucumbers that you failed to see in the cucumber jungle the day before (when they were only 6 inches long)?
  • Is the watering hose too hot to touch after 9:30 am?

If you answered YES to all of these questions, it is probably summer.
I have cucumbers and summer squash by the basket load and oodles of basil from the aquaponics system. The pepper plants are lush and bush-like, perfect for concealing their fiery fruits from the hot sun (and the subsequent sun scald). The eggplant got a late start, but it’s growing quickly and I can already see the differences in the three varieties I planted, exciting! The amaranth is about to go in the ground (and will shoot up to about eight feet tall) and the sorghum has just begun to set seed. The pole beans are climbing up their trellises and the baby sugar watermelons have baby melons all over. 
What am I saying? Tis’ an excellent time to be outside in the garden and see all the splendor of summer! Stop by and see what we’ll be harvesting next, it changes just about every week.
Submitted by Kate Wilkins, SFBFS Garden Coordinator

June 16, 2015

Summer is Here!

What a way to end our 2014-2015 school year in SFBFS'  Youth Education program, but celebrating our kids success!!! These past few days Krystal and I have had the opportunity to attend some of youth graduation ceremonies:  Bianca, Sahala, Beatriz, Nancy, Fernanda, Cynthia, Fabiola, Angelina, Aryanna, Gabriel.

Many of these kids we have known for many years! Beatriz, came to our program when she was only 1 year old and she would cry because she didn't want to stay and be away from her mom who was taking an ESL class... now she will be a freshmen in high school.  Bianca came to our program when she was just in first grade and her mom was taking a parenting class through our Parent Education program and is now entering middle school. Nancy came to our program when she was just a first grader, too, and will be attending Sacramento State University this fall. Fernanda enrolled when she was just in third grade and was scared of reading in front of others and now she is off to Sacramento State University too!

We are honored to have the opportunity to work with youth in our community because we are making a difference in their life's and the lives of their families. We walk by their side and are there in times of need when they feel sad, afraid, unsure and we share happy memories with them. The Youth Education program offers homework support, tutoring, enrichment activities, community service, college and career guidance, summer internships, summer camps and technology for teens - all for FREE to the community!

Submitted by Aurelia Garcia, Youth Education Program Manager & Counselor