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Coronavirus Appeal to VEP's Annual Fund

VEP welcomes adult immigrants and refugees, who are non-native English speakers ages 18 to 80+. VEP students are individuals who devote three hours each week to improving their English language skills and understanding of American culture.

Many VEP students are “high-touch, low-wage” workers. They are the backbone of Chester County’s manufacturing, health care, service and economic sectors. They are the people keeping local restaurants and grocery stores open. Many are single parents now serving as teachers, staying at home with their children and supporting their education as a result of schools closing.

The impact of COVID-19 resulted in the team at the Volunteer English Program taking a predominantly in-person approach and transforming into an entirely virtual model of instruction overnight. Since early March, all staff have increased their part-time availability to tutors and students with a responsive, 7 days-per-week, work-from-home schedule, in order to keep VEP fully operational.  Staff are in contact regularly with all active tutors (approximately 200) to lend support and provide suggestions about distance learning with individuals who may not have access to technology or the facility with phone communications. Tutors have demonstrated their unwavering commitment to serving some of the most marginalized people in our community during this pandemic crisis. In addition to maintaining lesson plans, tutors are sharing creative ways that they will continue ‘meeting’ with their students virtually, such as FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, telephone, email and U.S. mail.

Adult students who have lost jobs require tutor guidance to apply for unemployment benefits. Individuals who are without health care or other employment related benefits, depend on the trust and confidential direction provided by their VEP tutors to access food, housing, and child care support. Not only are these services unfamiliar to most, the content on many sites are provided in English or Spanish, making them inaccessible for other VEP students who speak 22 other languages. Tutors are a vital link to over 200 immigrant students. The exchange between staff and student-tutor pairs in real-time is labor intensive, but invaluable for us to be responsive to everyone’s needs.

Through VEP’s innovative one-to-one, community-and volunteer- based model, the program offers high-quality education to adults that are new and creative for all of us.

Your generous contribution helps us to stay open for students even while our physical doors are closed.

Thank you.

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