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New Jersey Diaconal Network Offers ESL Classes


The Diaconal Network formed by six Christian Reformed churches in the Paterson, N.J., area, is offering basic and intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) as a way of reaching out to the local community.

Hosted by Unity CRC in Prospect Park, each church in the Diaconal Network took turns providing refreshment and child care for eight students who gathered for the 13-week course.

Part of the funding to pay for the instructors came from Classes Hudson and Hackensack (regional groups of churches). Both instructors are members of New Horizon CRC in Clifton, N.J.

Bill Reitsma, coordinator of the ESL program, said the program was one of the ways the Diaconal Network connects with its neighbors.

Anna Almendares, an ESL student, was thankful for her experience. “For the first time I feel confident in speaking English at my job,” she said. Another student, Alba De La Cruz, will use what he learned to apply to Passaic County Community College.

Volunteers benefited as well. Bob Torbet, a member of Unity CRC, was awed by the experience, which “taught me how to connect with other cultures,” he said.

“I loved being with the children and seeing them respond to our love,” said Christy Van Genderen, a member of Covenant CRC.

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