Margarita, 48, lives with her husband and two sons in Bay Ridge. She immigrated to the US from Mexico twenty years ago for financial reasons, and has lived in Brooklyn ever since. When Margarita went searching for a new job in Sunset Park, the Center for Family Life recommended that she focus on improving her English, and referred her to AMPHS. “I said to myself, if that’s the path, then let’s go, let’s get started.”
A few weeks later, she was enrolled in AMPHS’ Advanced English Class with Bonnie Blaha, one of AMPHS ESL instructors. Margarita quickly became one of the most outspoken students in class and often encouraged her classmates to be more active in the classroom. “Bonnie has lots of patience with us. She is wonderful.”
AMPHS English classes provide students with the language skills they need to survive and connect community members to each other through a common goal. They also provide access to holistic health and wellness services, further empowering community members to understand and assert their rights.
Once Margarita also learned about AMPHS health services, she immediately took advantage of AMPHS Saturday health screening services and signed up for weekly counseling with AMPHS’ licensed mental health therapist, Matilde Pedrero. “There are a lot of people here that don’t speak English… there are people who don’t ever receive check-ups. Here they have a chance to see a doctor, to learn English, to understand their situation.”
Though Margarita has graduated from AMPHS Adult Literacy program, she continues to play an important role in the AMPHS community as a volunteer, encouraging others to learn English and spreading the word about the organization. “I bring people in, little by little- my friend, my neighbor.” Margarita often brings her sons Jonathan and Jordan into the office as well. “The kids are happy here, they love to come here. They say, mom, let’s go to the school.”
AMPHS services, she points out, can make an enormous difference in someone’s life: “I am especially worried for my Guatemalan friends, the ones working dangerous jobs, the delivery bikers. Just the other day, a 16-year-old boy was killed delivering food. He probably barely knew how to read the ‘No-turn’ sign… or maybe if he had known some English he wouldn’t have to be dodging cars, maybe he could be waiting tables somewhere instead.”