Andy Meyer

50 StoriesVolunteer
September 09, 2017

“LearningWorks plays a key role in finding and training volunteers like me and matching us up with students like Fatima who we can help. Thanks to LearningWorks, I have found meaningful volunteer work, and Fatima has been able to advance her career.” – Andy Meyer, Residential Program Manager, Efficiency Maine

When Fatima Penayo arrived in Maine in the summer of 2016 from Paraguay, she went from room to room in her apartment and labeled all of her belongings with their English names. As the mother of a four year old, she knew learning English would be the difference between being involved in her four year old daughter’s education and not having a voice. She knew it would be the most important factor in returning to her career as a nurse. So she started learning the words one by one: book, teaspoon, cup.

Then, she heard about LearningWorks’ free English Language & Literacy program from her husband Carlo. When she arrived in our classroom, she was immediately enrolled in two evening classes each week with a group of fellow language learners and matched with tutor Andy Meyer for additional one-on-one practice. Andy says, “When she first arrived, our conversations were primarily phrases like, ‘Hello, my name is Fatmia.’ They role played conversations she’d need for daily living, did vocabulary drills, practiced pronunciation, and more.

Now, six months later, Fatima is functionally fluent in English in addition to her native Spanish and Guarani. She left her job in a seafood processing plant and now works at an assisted living facility in her chosen field, speaking English exclusively. Though she has a full time job, is raising her daughter, and taking two classes a week, she still makes time to meet with Andy on evenings and weekends to advance her English. Andy, in turn, is inspired by her drive to learn and her career aspirations.

Maybe you’ve seen them around. Like the hundreds of additional students and volunteers we reach through this program, they can be found on nights and weekends at a coffee shop, the library, or a community center – giving back to the community through volunteering, learning a new language, and realizing their potential.


Courtesy – Sofia Aldinio Photo & Video