‘This makes a difference in your life’

By Morgan McGrath Chelsae Poelking has been teaching English as a second language for the past two years, and every Tuesday night, she can be found in an Akron Crossings classroom, laughing with students as they collectively crack some jokes.  “God made all people valuable,” she said. “Everyone is valuable in his eyes, no matter where you’re from, or what you’ve been through. That’s why we want to love them [refugees] and help them have the best chance they have.” Poelking first fell in love with volunteering during a trip down south to Clarkston, Georgia, just a 20-minute drive outside...

Why one volunteer loves teaching English as a Second Language

By Morgan McGrath Akron Crossings volunteer Jake George. Photo courtesy of Jake George. Jake George, one of the many volunteers at Akron Crossings, has graying hair, and a welcoming smile.  George, an Indian-American who has been living in the United States for “many” years, as he puts it, spends every Tuesday and Thursday teaching English as a second language, or ESL, to refugees from around the world. “I kept looking for opportunities to help out,” he said.  George worked in the rubber industry for 42 years, and following his retirement, he wanted to find ways to give back to the...

Overcoming barriers at Akron Crossings

By Morgan McGrath Akron Crossings is in North Hill, tucked among a long stretch of residential areas. Bena Paisley is the founder of this non-profit, community-centric organization, and her central goal is to help refugees adjust to the United States through the guidance of Christianity.  “I encourage them [refugees] to be patient with themselves, and that they really can do this, ‘cuz it’s overwhelming sometimes,” she said.  After speaking with local residents in North Hill, Paisley realized they all mentioned their need to overcome language barriers.  “I was a staff member at a church, and we started Crossings as a...