Dozens of Spanish speaking Port Chester residents want to learn to speak English well but dozens of factors can prohibit them from making it to classes. Thanks to a grant from Rye Presbyterian Church Women’s Association, parents have one less barrier to learning English.

The church group awarded Caritas of Port Chester a $1,000 grant to hire a babysitter for their students and to buy supplies.

 “Because of this grant we can bring in a babysitter so women can learn unencumbered by their children,” said Anne Spindel, a Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester member who helped found the ELS program along with her fellow congregation member Doreen Kushel.

The two joined with Holy Rosary Church in Port Chester to run the program, which has now just officially become its own non-profit organization (501.C3) as the Caritas of Port Chester.

Caritas also runs a soup kitchen where 39,000 meals were served last year, a food pantry where 550-700 families are served each month and an open closet. This is their third year receiving a grant from Rye Presbyterian Church.

“We are very grateful,” said Pat Hart, President of the Board of Directors for Caritas..

The English as a Second Language program holds two classes a week all year long. About 30 to 50 people attend each class where volunteers work with groups one to three people at a time, Hart said. “It is a very hands-on experience. The kids have some exposure to English and the students are able to socialize.”

Every year Rye Presbyterian Church Women’s Association gathers to award thousands of dollars of grants to local organizations making a difference in this community.

This year, the group awarded a total of $50,000 to 22 organizations with grants of one or a few thousand dollars to help with specific aspects of their programs. Every cent of the $50,000 was raised at the Presbyterian Church Thrift Shop, run by volunteers and open only three hours one day a week during the school year.

“That is a lot of one and two dollar items we sold to raise this money,” said Kristin Jautz, a board member of the Women’s Association during the grant awards luncheon June 10.

“When you come to this event it is so humbling because we live in an area where many of us are privileged but there is still so much need around us and to be able to do this is a wonderful opportunity,” Jautz said.

This thrift store is open every Thursday during the school year from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is located in the basement of Rye Presbyterian Church.