Pastor aims to bridge gap in community by teaching English classes

A pastor in Collier County has made it his mission to teach immigrants the English language and culture, and he’s been doing it for years.

It’s been said that the greatest journeys begin with a single step. Antonio and his family took that big step by moving to America.

“We come from Venezuela but here we can meet people from everywhere,” he said. “We want to know the language, everything about you, the culture, everything.”

About eight months ago, he found an English class at the Pelican Community Center—a place that welcomes immigrants from all over the world.

“We try to keep it fun, we really try to keep it fun,” said Pastor Mark Eisold, who runs the class.

“There’s a divergence, because people who come down with wealth, this is their playground, this is their second home, and then there are those who serve them. And there isn’t a lot of communication or mixing at that level,” Eisold said.

More than 100,000 people in Collier County speak another language aside from English. That’s about one third of the population.

Pastor Eisold gets to know every single person who walks through his door. His program is free and volunteer-based.

“When you remove language barriers, you’re creating unity in the community. People can speak with confidence, they can ask questions, they can cross boundaries, and know and trust each other better,” he said.

Pastor Eisold says most of his students are in their 50’s or 60’s, but he even has some students in their 70’s. His classes are offered twice a week.

Contact information at The Pelican Community Center is:
(239) 455-2520   Office

(239) 307-7336   Pastor Mark

(239) 595-1101   Maximo Maldonado

The Pelican Community Center address: 5800 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples
The free, weekly class schedule is:

English Class:  Tuesday & Wednesday, 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Thursday, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Spanish Class: Wednesday, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

Reporter:Olivia Mancino
Writer:Erica Brown
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