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Anny Whetzel, a Cranston resident, was recently named a Rhode Island Community Hero by Cox Communications in honor of her volunteer efforts. Whetzel is a production support tech at Cox, where she has worked for more than 13 years. During the past year, she has spent her Saturday afternoons at Knight Memorial Library, a branch of the Providence Community Library, teaching adults English as a Second Language. In recognition of Whetzel’s efforts, Cox will award the library a $3,000 Cox Charities Grant to further support its work in the community.
PBN: Why did you decide to volunteer as an ESL teacher?
WHETZEL: I became a weekly visitor of the Knight Memorial Library in 1994 to pass my love of reading on to my children. My family and I would visit the library almost every Saturday to pick up books for the week. I would always read the library newsletter, and one day, I read an article about a new ESL program that was looking for volunteers. I thought to myself, what better way was there to give back to the place that provided a wealth of knowledge, entertainment and love of reading to my family than to be an ESL teacher here?
PBN: Can you tell us a little bit about what a typical Saturday teaching session entails?
WHETZEL: I usually work with three to four other volunteers. The students are divided into groups based on their level of proficiency of the English language. I focus on pronunciation, learning new words and sentence structure. I also encourage the students to play a word-association game. My job is to begin a conversation with my students and they have to keep the discussion going in English.
PBN: What do you find rewarding about volunteering?
WHETZEL: Knowing that I helped someone in my community become more independent is a great feeling. Not only have I helped them develop a tool to become more self-sufficient, but they are now able to communicate with their neighbors, local city offices and their children’s teachers. It is truly rewarding when the students return week after week and I get to witness the effort and progress each one of them has made. •