Sr. Alice Petty Vocational Program
Our ministry began with resettling refugee families. Quite often, we saw newcomers miss work and job opportunities because they didn’t have the workplace skills required to advance in the companies that hired them. One of the major reasons was they could not speak English. To help remedy this, we started English classes in the basement of Saint Catherine of Sweden church. These were very basic introductory English classes. It quite often reminded me how fragile human existence really is. We had in our classes men and women who had been quite successful and accomplished in their native countries; now the very best they could do was to clean bathrooms or carry heavy loads on their backs all day for minimum wage or less. The goal of the vocational program has always been to give people access to the education they need to improve their lives. Over the years, we have conducted English classes, introduction to computers, typing, job skills, personal hygiene, and citizenship preparation. We’ve had students from the U.S, Vietnam, various Central and South American countries, Poland, Russia, Albania, Kosovo, and various African countries. We can count over 150 citizens who have passed through the vocational program and are now part of the fabric of the U.S. Today, our vocational program has expanded greatly in scope. We now offer a Student Incentive Program, as well as internships in China.