PLEASANTON, Calif. (KTVU) - A unique program in Pleasanton is matching senior citizens at a retirement community with immigrants working there, to help them achieve the American dream.
At Stoneridge Creek, residents are teaching workers how to read and write English. Claudia Gonzalez can now read and write English.Just a few months ago, the immigrant from Mexico couldn't do either.
For one hour each week, Gonzalez receives lessons as part of the English as a Second Language program provided by her employer Stoneridge Creek Senior Living Community in Pleasanton.
Her English teacher is 83-year-old Jule Saracco, a resident.
"She's learning from me and I'm learning from her," said Saracco.
Language lessons are improving both their lives.
Gonzalez works as a housekeeper at Stoneridge. She says until she started learning how to read and write there were many things she couldn't understand, including how her 401k works.
"I think I feel more comfort more secure," said Gonzalez.
A newfound security for Gonzalez and a sense of purpose for Saracco, a former school teacher and English professor
"I felt at loose ends when a retired. I felt I retired too soon," said Saracco
The ladies are part of a 40-person group that is part of this pilot program that partners residents with employees who are immigrants from countries largely from Latin America and Southeast Asia.
"You can have a life-changing moment with somebody," said Steven Manning, environmental services director at Stoneridge Creek, "Make an exponential change in their life for the good and have their positive experience even into their senior years.
Gonzalez hopes to parlay her English skills into attending college to become a special education teacher.
"I want a better life and this country has given me a huge, better life," said Gonzalez.