Jericho Road works with immigrants, refugees, and native born persons in financial need with their health, language skills, financial skills and more. When people are in need, Jericho Road answers. They’ve steadily been expanding services throughout the city of Buffalo and the clientele in need continues to grow. Be a part of Buffalo’s tremendous response to its neighbors – old and new.

– – Here’s more from our friend Mary Schaefer, Communication and Events Coordinator at JHRC:

Boundless Immigration published a report in February that ranked the Buffalo area fifth on a list of best cities to earn American citizenship. Their rankings were based on factors like the amount of time it takes to achieve citizenship and the distance to the nearest field office. While the report did not consider factors like access to language services, availability of affordable housing, and average cost of living, all those things are also important to new Americans and their ability to achieve success in their communities.

Jericho Road’s ESL Initiative provides language classes and citizenship preparation in public locations and in-home lessons. With the help of 62 volunteer teachers, our program serves more than 300 students per year. Let us introduce you to two of them.

This is Teresa. She is originally from Sudan. When Teresa first started attending class at the Riverside Library, she was very reserved and seemed to be a basic beginner with few literacy skills. As the weeks progressed, her volunteer teachers noticed that she picked up on verbal skills very quickly. Eventually, Teresa revealed to her teachers that her poor eyesight was a major problem in class and in general. Teresa’s teachers encouraged her to go to Jericho Road’s nearby clinic and get a referral to an eye doctor, while continuing to work with her to make the reading and writing parts of class accessible. A couple months later, Teresa came to class with a gorgeous pair of bifocals and began to progress very quickly! She rapidly advanced to level two and can now read and write quite well. The biggest change, though, was in her overall confidence. She can now hold a decent conversation with just about anyone and can often be found chatting with teachers and classmates during lesson breaks.

This is Jani, who started attending ESL and citizenship prep classes with Jericho Road for four years. When she first started, she could barely read or write at all in English and didn’t know any of the 100 citizenship exam questions. Since then, she has studied incredibly hard and overcome many barriers just to get to class (taking care of ill family members and walking to class in freezing, snowy weather). After not passing her first attempt at the citizenship interview back in February, Jani and her volunteer teachers worked harder than ever to make sure she was adequately prepared the second time around. When she came to class the morning after her second interview, she was absolutely beaming and she happily told her teachers that she’d passed. 

In the end, ESL class is about more than just gaining language skills. It also envelops new Americans in a diverse social group that includes other English language learners from all over the world.

You can help our new neighbors achieve success and find a welcoming place for themselves in Buffalo by supporting organizations like Jericho Road. Support can take many forms—volunteer (ESL teachers and assistants are always needed), invest financially or with material goods (check their wishlists or call ahead to find out what they need right now), or attend their fundraisers.