U.S. Marine pushes Mom to learn English

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U.S. Marine pushes Mom to learn English

Dollar General grant gives boost to adult literacy program

Eriberta Gonzalez of Monroe is working toward a big goal as she learns English through Common Heart’s adult literacy program: becoming an electrician. 

Thanks to an $8,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, Eriberta and other Union County adults are getting the chance to make their dreams a reality. Since its inception in 1993, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $203 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, helping more than 11 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy or continued education. 

A single mom of three, Eriberta heard about the adult literacy program earlier this year when she was picking up groceries at one of our food pantries. A native of Mexico, she’s always wanted to improve her English but was scared to take that first step. The encouragement to sign up came from an unlikely place: The U.S. Marines. 

It was her 20-year-old daughter, who is a Marine stationed overseas, who provided the push she needed. She also has a 14-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter. 

“She told me, ‘Mom, you’ve done so much for us, this is your turn to do something for yourself. This is your chance at a better life,’ Eriberta said through an interpreter. “I’ll have more opportunities by learning English.”  

Life has been difficult for Eriberta since coming to the US with extended family when she was just 14 years old. She was expected to babysit the younger children and didn’t go to school herself. She then worked in a chicken processing plant for 17 years and about two years ago started working in a woodworking factory. 

But when COVID hit, she wasn’t getting enough hours and then was eventually let go. Since then she started her own tamale making business and has been selling them outside local factories where her friends work. 

But she remains focused on her dream.    

In addition to meeting at least once a week with her Common Heart tutor and working on her own in the literacy computer lab, Eriberta has signed up for English as a Second Language classes at South Piedmont Community College. 

“I’ve seen the commercials on TV with female electricians and construction workers and I feel like if they’re doing it, why can’t I?”

For more information about our adult literacy program, call 704-993-6931 or email RJ.Lightsey@CommonHeart.org

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