Janey Rule created a foundation that is helping people achieve goals they may not have thought possible.
Through the Learn English for Living Foundation, Rule and a group of volunteers are helping others better their lives by being able to read, write and speak English.
A world traveler, Rule said she knows what it is like to be in a culture one doesn’t understand. Three visits to Korea really made her feel for those who can’t comprehend a language.
“It was the first time in my life that I learned what it felt like to be illiterate,” she said.
The foundation began in January 2010, eight years after she first began teaching English as a Second Language classes. She helped employees of Mi Rancho in Clearwater learn English. While helping them, she learned of parents’ concerns about not being able to help their children with homework.
She then expanded the program into elementary schools with a group of 12 volunteers.
Four years ago, Rule began to learn Spanish to be able to communicate with some of her students. She said she realized some beginners were leaving because they weren’t able to communicate with their instructors.
“Several volunteers do speak good Spanish,” she said.
Classes meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at two locations – North Augusta and Clearwater. Four adult classes are held at both locations, and students are placed into a class depending on their comprehension level. Clearwater also has a class for children that offers help with homework.
While the majority of students are Hispanic, Rule said she has people from many countries participating. It’s not necessary for volunteers to be able to speak the different languages to teach English, she said.
Volunteers attend classes a couple of weeks and go through about four nights of training, Rule said.
“We teach them to be compassionate,” she said, noting the frustrations adults go through learning a second language.
Many people have been helped through the program, such as a woman who was able to leave an abusive situation because she was able to get her citizenship, Rule said. “She couldn’t get a job without citizenship,” she said.
In 2010, the foundation served 250 students, she said. Classes for mothers with infants or toddlers have helped the program reach people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.
The foundation is looking for volunteers to help expand the program to new sites and begin new classes at existing sites. Rule said she hopes to expand the foundation into Aiken and Augusta.
The Clearwater site also will begin shuttle buses for those who do not have transportation.
Anyone interested in attending classes can just show up or get in touch with Rule.
“I’m just very pleased that it’s gotten this big,” she said. “It’s amazing what it’s doing for volunteers in the community.”