Wai Moy is the epitome of what American dreams are made of. She immigrated to America from China when she was a child and, like many immigrants, found it difficult to pick up the English language and culture. But through it all, she succeeded and earned two master’s degrees, becoming a well-known engineer in New York.
“Only in America could an immigrant with nothing, work hard, and become someone,” Moy said. “This is my time to give back to others who have their own American dreams.”
Now a retiree living at Stoneridge Creek, she’s launched a unique English as a Second Language (ESL) program, which is changing the lives of residents and staff members who work at the community.
Since January 2019, 24 residents have signed up to become ESL volunteer teachers. Many of them are retired teachers, while others were pilots, librarians, and engineers. The one-on-one, one-hour classes are held on the Stoneridge Creek campus. The students work in different departments at the community and are all immigrants – mainly from the Philippines, Mexico, and parts of Asia. The classes occur during their work-day, but they don’t miss out on any pay despite taking the courses.
Housekeeper Claudia Gonzales is one of the participants in the program. She says despite living in America for 32 years, she wanted to become a better writer. “Stoneridge Creek has given me the opportunity to work, and live a healthy and happy life,” said Gonzales. “This program is flexible with my work hours, and I hope to build on experience to move forward in my career.”
Her tutor, retired teacher Jule Sacracco, 83, meets with her once a week. The two are currently reading through the book “Charlotte’s Web,” which helps Gonzales with grammar, writing, and reading. “This program isn’t just for the staff, we’re all learning from one another here,” said Sacracco.
Since opening in 2013, Stoneridge Creek has always promoted a dynamic and engaging lifestyle for its residents. The community knows the importance of keeping the brain active as you age. In fact, studies show activities like this ESL program could help increase vitality in seniors and may create new brain cells to fight against Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
“We’ve seen the impact in our residents and team members since we launched the program,” said Executive Director Zeke Griffin. “In a world where we’re seeing a lot of hostility toward immigrants, Stoneridge Creek residents and staff are banding together to create unique relationships that are changing lives forever.”
The story was recently featured on KTVU-TV. Watch the video below: