A small Kennewick nonprofit is rebranding itself as demand rises for its English classes.
Family Learning Center, now B5, offers English classes and a range of other services to support clients director Theresa Roosendaal prefers to call “newcomers,” often refugees arriving from Afghanistan, Somalia, Central America and other spots.
The new name reflects the number of the Central Park Apartments unit it calls home and has been its informal name for several years.
The volunteer-led organization launched its Limited English Proficiency class early this year under a contract with the state. The contract with the state required it to find at least 10 qualified students. By July it had 30 and by November, about 60, Roosendaal said.
Students are referred to by the state Department of Social and Health Services when language is a barrier to finding employment. Classes are taught by certified teachers and meet 12 hours a week at the Boys and Girls Club Kennewick Clubhouse, with child care available.
It is similar to the ESL classes at Columbia Basin College but tailored to a different audience.
“We are not competing with CBC,” Roosendaal said.
English classes are one of the ways B5 helps newly arrived immigrants and refugees build new lives in an unfamiliar culture where may speak no English.
It helps families with school registration and supports clients who are studying to take the test to become U.S. citizens.
It relies on volunteers and goodwill to carry out its mission to create a community of open hearts, helping hands and support systems where “strangers become friends and we all thrive.”
“The key to helping people thrive in the community is having strong relationships with Americans who care about them and care about helping them integrate,” Roosendaal said.
B5 is not a job placement agency. That responsibility rests with World Relief Tri-Cities, part of a global Christian humanitarian organization that settles refugees and immigrants in new communities.
Promoting English is a priority because it helps newcomers secure employment and financial stability.
“That’s a real pool of people for employers,” she said.
It partners with the Kennewick School District to assist students as they assimilate into school and places a high priority on helping teens secure driver’s licenses.
“Many are the primary driver for the family,” she said.
B5 is looking to move beyond the Central Park apartments it calls home. It was set up there because the complex is often a first stop for newly arrived families and it likes to be part of the community.
It intends to build its own building next to the Boys and Girls Clubhouse, which is nearby, on land that is being gifted.
In 2023, it will launch a capital campaign to raise money to construct a 4,500-square-foot building with classrooms, offices, a kitchen and other facilities.
In the interim, it relies on volunteers and charitable contributions to carry out its work.
Go to flcatb5.org.
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