Morgan Hill facility that educates immigrant women and children is a victim of COVID-19 pandemic

By Staff Report

Falling victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Learning and Loving Education Center is closing its doors and will not reopen to students and preschool children in August as planned.

After spending months trying to determine alternatives to the challenge of social distancing, the decision to close the site on Church Street near downtown Morgan Hill was made by the board of directors and announced in late June by Christa Hanson, the center’s director.

Photo courtesy Living and Loving Center
Carolina Gonzalez and her son Roger the day she became a U.S. citizen. She graduated from the center’s Hi-Set (GED) program this year.

A sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM and governed by their board of directors, the 2018 Morgan Hill Nonprofit of the Year has been educating underserved immigrant women and offering their children a preschool experience for more than 27 years. As a small nonprofit, its ability to operate has always depended on grants, fundraising and individual donations.

Hanson and the board of trustees, through its president Jim Yinger, thanked the hundreds of individuals, businesses, organizations and foundations that have supported the Learning and Loving Education Center over the years.

The board of trustees is currently working on a plan to ensure that the women and their children will be connected to similar agencies in our community.

“Although the center is closing, we are still committed to the belief that education is essential in creating systemic change for vulnerable populations in order to overcome the obstacles of poverty, discrimination and illiteracy,” Yinger said.

The Learning and Loving Education Center was established in 1994 to teach skills, foster hope, and provide direction to adult immigrant women and their children living in the surrounding low and extremely low-income areas of our community which are home to a high concentration of isolated, marginalized, illiterate and under-served women and children.

Annually, more than 170 women representing 17 countries enrolled in the literacy programs, which included classes from pre-literacy to Hi-SET (General Educational Development). Over the past three years, there have been 40 GED graduates from the center.

More than 4,000 women have moved through the center over the years. They have progressed on to Gavilan Community College or they have used the life skills they learned to help them navigate day-to-day life.

“These women have become examples and advocates of learning and community involvement for their own families and for other immigrant women,” Hanson said.

Robert Airoldi