Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal
Guadalupe Morin repeats the sounds of vowel combinations as she goes through an English second language computer interactive program to become more fluent in English.
Morin said that her main objective is employment.
"It has helped me a lot, I hear the sounds and I repeat them in English," said Morin, who was born in Mexico. "I want to work in an office."
She has lived in Alice for three years and said The Help Center is helping her learn English, develop her typing and cooking skills.
Morin is one of about a dozen women attending The Help Center at the Episcopal Church Educational building on the corner of North Wright and Second Street. The center is under the umbrella of the Christian Women's Job Corps. The Help Center assists women who are interested in learning job skills along with cooking and sewing classes.
All of the classes are at no charge, organizers said.
Director of the ministry Lily Cash, said the program has flourished.
"We have truly been blessed to have such an attractive and spacious building to house this exceptional program," Cash said. "All of our classes are now housed in the same location with plenty of space and fresh new surroundings."
The computer classes are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. On Monday the program consists of a morning Bible study and computer lab, on Tuesday the center has sewing classes along with workshops for budgeting and professional development, on Wednesdays, the group focuses on computers and English as a Second Language and GED classes and on Thursdays, the women work on their cooking skills with a food and nutrition class.
On Thursday, a group of ladies steamed cabbage and stuffed them with ground beef and onions and boiled them for 45 minutes. The stuffed cabbage was served with carrots in a sweet sauce.
Luisa Elena Martinez, from Valenzuela, helped with the cooking classes, but also attends the language classes at the center.
"It's hard for me because I use only two fingers and now I'm learning to use all of my fingers," she said about using the keyboard. "We have a good teacher."
Martinez said her dream is to work with children. She formerly was a teacher aide in her country.
Irene Bueno, from San Diego, aspires to become a certified computer technician. She said now that her children are grown and moved out of her home, she is spending time on developing herself.
"My goal is to refresh my memory on typing and my skills on computer," she said.
Diana Cantu, who started with the Christian Women's Job Corps, now assists the women in the computer lab.
"There desire is to get office work," Cantu said. "They are really hard workers."
Cash said the center is a place where no one will be turned away.
"We are trying to be more inclusive," she said. "We want to be a resource and a place of refuge."