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‘School and Tutors on Wheels’ honors volunteers

“School and Tutors on Wheels,” a free adult English literacy program, held its fifth annual benefit on June 11 at the Theatre of Western Springs. Sponsored by the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Joseph in LaGrange Park, School and Tutors on Wheels works with low-income adults in suburban Cook and DuPage counties to teach them English literacy and life skills.

The 2014 Gratitude Award went to Emilio and Ann Marie Gervilla, owners of Emilio’s Tapas Restaurants in Hillside, for their many years of supporting the program.

“The language barriers Emilio faced when he first started working in the restaurant industry after arriving from Spain in 1973 connects him with the immigrant experiences of our students,” said Theresa Denton, executive director. “The Gervillas have used their success to help others. “School and Tutors on Wheels” is very fortunate to be the beneficiary of their generosity.”

Olga Valdivia Martin, an adult learner at ‘School and Tutors on Wheels’ site in Woodridge, received the Sr. Marybeth McDermott Success Award. In her acceptance speech, Valdivia spoke of the challenges she faced in the past.

“We had two little kids, and my husband worked 48 hours a week. Plus we didn’t have any family here, so most of the time I needed somebody to give us a ride to my kids doctor’s visits,” she said. “I felt so frustrated because I couldn’t communicate with people.”

“My life has changed a full 360 degrees,” said Valdivia. “I’m not afraid anymore to go to doctors’ appointments, to speak with people, to talk to my son’s teachers.”

After leaving the program, Valdivia-Martin worked as a medical translator for Bolingbrook Hospital. She became a U.S. citizen in 2013 and is now training to become a literacy tutor herself.

For more information or to learn how to become a tutor, call (708) 482-5060 or visit schoolandtutorsonwheels.org.

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