My name is Alison DiGiacomo, I work in a dental office in Collingswood, NJ as a Treatment Coordinator. While I have a lot of experience in deskwork, my real background is in missions, going back as far as my early teens
with a call to full-time service. I’ve spent a combined total of 2 years living abroad and have visited several other countries for opportunities involving ESL work and administrative support. All of this has been broken up due to several years of college followed by a few years of health concerns.
This year, I began to pray about the opportunity to move away again for full-time service. However, God was bringing my attention a little closer to home. At my job in the dental office, I’m frequently used to translate in Spanish. However, there are families with other language backgrounds who frequent our office. I love “translating” for these patients, trying to bridge the cultural and language barriers that keep us separate. One family told me they’d arrived from Syria only weeks earlier, others are from Afghanistan, Iran and Myanmar. God began to put a heart in me for these people who’ve been thrown into a world of culture shock, where everything from language to transportation to how the grocery stores are laid out can feel so foreign as to be overwhelming.
Through a series of crazy coincidences, God has started dropping the pieces of a plan into my lap. I have been involved in starting two language tutoring centers overseas and was involved in the launch of two businesses in the US. Perhaps God could use my strange blend of skills to help the refugee community in some way? My research of the Camden County area shows there’s a severe need for supplemental support such as ESL classes, transportation, and translation. God has put it on my heart to offer these services to the people who need it most.
I am launching a Nonprofit named Crossing the Gap which will provide a series of English Conversation classes to the immigrant community. Due to the limitations in peoples’ income, these classes will be offered at discounted or scholarshipped rates. They will be marketed primarily to the refugee community, but open to all immigrants with limited income, low English ability, and a genuine drive to learn. The Middle Eastern community specifically struggles with transportation limitations, so I hope to provide free transportation as well. Lastly, childcare will be provided since many are unable to make other arrangements.
I am excited about what God is doing. The support of my friends and family will be vital during this time! Prayer is the first and foremost means of support needed. In addition to that, financial support will be needed to bring the pieces together. I also love to connect with people and find out what services and ideas already exist so that I’m not reinventing a wheel. If you have any good connections, send them my way! Lastly, volunteer help will be needed in bulk to be able to provide every part, but no ESL teaching experience is required.
Thank you for your time in reading this! Please pray, consider financially supporting, then reach out to find other ways you can help!