Fall 2022 Update

Welcome Back Students!

We're back! On Monday evening, September 12th, we opened our doors to welcome 140 smiling, enthusiastic students! Classes are in session Mon, Tues, and Thur nights at Cristo Rey de la Salle High School, taught by our amazing team of volunteers.

We're thrilled that over 60% of our students are returning from last year, and excited to welcome our new students into the Las Casas family. Our program is open to adults of all educational, economic and language backgrounds. From Introduction to Intermediate High, our classes meet the needs of all our students.

Las Casas is off to a great start, providing dynamic classes in a safe and supportive environment.

Happy 20th, Las Casas

Earlier this year, we held a fabulous 20th Anniversary Celebration outside at Cristo Rey de la Salle High School. Friends of Las Casas, students and volunteers all came out to mark this important milestone. We held informational sessions where students and volunteers shared stories about how Las Casas has impacted their lives. The crowd also enjoyed live music, local food, face-painting, and games for kids, as well as a raffle with prizes donated by the community.

We were honored that the event was featured in the August Issue of the Catholic Voice. You can read the article and check out the photos from this great event on our brand new FACEBOOK page! Be sure to follow us to keep up with all our news and events, and please share with your friends and family. 

Community Fall Fair

Las Casas is a vital part of the Fruitvale Community, and we are working to expand our relationships with other local immigrant-focused organizations to connect our students with much needed services. This November we will hold our first ever Fall Fair where representatives from key community-based organizations will speak, distribute information, connect with and educate our students about the important services they offer. 

Casa CHE/La Clinica will provide information on health care coverage options and health clinics; Centro Legal de la Raza will disseminate legal and immigration services information, and the Caesar Chavez branch of Oakland Public Library will educate students about the various services available at the library, including computers/internet, free classes, books, videos, and even a seed lending library! 

We plan to make this an annual event and expand our network of community partners. We are excited to help our students access the services they need to improve their lives here in Oakland!

New Leadership Team

New decade, new team! We are excited to announce that long-time volunteer teacher and former Assistant Director, 

Dana Neufeld, has taken on the role of Program Director for Las Casas after Phyliss Martinez, Director of 11 years, retired in May. Dana will be focused on providing dynamic and engaging ESL classes for our students while maintaining a dedicated volunteer base. She hopes to deepen Las Casas’ connections with community partners to further impact students’ lives. 

Corrina Bekiers-Sassano, our Assistant Director, is starting her 10th year as a Las Casas teacher. She will continue her role as Resource Specialist, heading up teacher mentorship, running teacher workshops, curriculum planning, and leading our computer literacy program — a woman of many talents!  

Jynny Juarez, former Las Casas student and volunteer Program Assistant of many years, is continuing on as Administrative Assistant Extraordinaire. Jynny works behind the scenes keeping Las Casas running smoothly!

Sally Guzdar, a volunteer teacher in our Introduction class for the past year, has joined our Admin team as Development Director. Sally is working to build a more diversified and sustainable funding base and spread the story of Las Casas to our wider community. 

(L to R: Corinna, Dana, Sally, Jynny)

Volunteer Spotlight

Meet Emily Lin-Jones, a fifth year volunteer teacher for Las Casas who has mainly taught in the Beginning Low and High levels. She may be soft-spoken, but don't let that fool you — Emily is a bright and dynamic leader in the classroom. Students love Emily because her lessons are at once engaging and well-paced. One of her best attributes as a teacher is her patience, which allows students to come out of their shells with just a gentle nudge. Emily says the amazing students keep her coming back to teach year after year: “The students have a spirit of perseverance, they are so hardworking and have a great attitude towards learning — it's just very rewarding to have students like that.” 

In part, through her volunteering with Las Casas, Emily came to realize her passion for teaching. This year she begins her first year in the Teacher Credential Program at Cal State East Bay. Despite her busy school schedule, she makes time to teach at Las Casas once a week — she AND her students are happy about that. 

Thank you, Friends of Las Casas!

We want to send a heartfelt thank you to the friends and supporters of Las Casas. We depend on the generosity of our community to keep our program running strong and the support we have received to mark our 20th year has been incredible.

Big thanks to Cristo Rey de la Salle High School for their generosity in sharing their classrooms with us. Additionally, we are grateful for the continuing support and guidance of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, whose unyielding support has ensured our growth and success since 2002.

Please forward this update to family and friends who might be interested in learning more about our work. We are always looking for supporters to help in a variety of ways — both in the classroom or through financial contributions. 

For more information on how to get involved, email us at: info@lascasasoakland.org!  

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Las Casas |  lascasasoakland.org

info@lascasasoakland.org | 510-842-3070 

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