After the Bell: Trinity River Mission

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by CHRIS FLANAGAN

WFAA

Posted on March 7, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Updated Monday, Mar 7 at 11:17 AM

DALLAS - For some parents, few things can be more frustrating than wanting to help your kids with homework and then not being able to because of a language barrier. 

One West Dallas program is helping many immigrant families overcome that obstacle.

Ally Lopez and her mom, Maria Ortiz, came to the United States from Mexico six years ago without speaking any English. Today, Ally, now a seventh grader, speaks fluently. She credits the after-school program at the Trinity River Mission with helping her learn the language.

The program also provided the tutoring and mentoring she needed, not only to keep pace in school with her classmates, but to surpass them of them as well.

In their West Dallas neighborhood, according to the mission, only 35 percent of students graduate high school. But, nearly 100 percent of students who graduate from the after-school program go onto college. 

Through encouragement from the Trinity River Mission staff, Ally's mom has taken ESL classes and now speaks English as well. 

"It's really amazing because I get to see my mom from speaking no English and to limited English to now understanding what I'm talking to her about," Ally said. 

"Friday is when the mission is not open," Ortiz said. "[Ally] can tell me, 'Can you help me with the homework,' and now I can explain to her how she can do something..."

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