DENVER -- Sylvia Simmons still gets emotional recalling her move to America from England more than 62 years ago.
“I didn’t realize how far America was and I didn’t realize how much I loved my family and in those days, you couldn’t pop back and forth and so it was an adjustment,” Simmons said.
Perhaps that’s why she identifies so deeply with the students on the other end of her phone.
“We’re all people, we’re all hoping for the same things,” Simmons said.
For the past ten years, the 84-year-old has been volunteering for The Learning Source, where until COVID, she taught English to new immigrants at the Eloise May Library.
“I don’t care which country you go to, if you’re going to a country, you need the language and especially for people coming here, they need the language to take the advantages that are available in America. That’s why I wanted to give them that hand up,” Simmons said.
Her dedication to her students is undeniable. When the pandemic shut down her in-person group classes, Simmons couldn’t just sit by and watch. Instead, she started offering individual classes over the phone from her home five days a week.
“My aim is just to keep them involved, until we can be open again,” Simmons said.
“ I think it says a lot about her that she was thinking about them and in her own way figured out how she was still going to help teach them and help care for them, even just via phone. I know some students have come outside of her house just to check on her so in any way that she can, she stays connected to them,” said Learning Source program manager, Jessika Harvey.
Simmons can’t wait to see her students in-person again.
“Hugs, hugs. That’s a very hard thing for me, I miss the hugs,” Simmons said.
English is what brought them together, but it’s the universal language of empathy that keeps Sylvia coming back.
“She’s unselfish. She does anything for anybody as long as she’s able to and you don’t meet very many people like that,” said longtime friend, Joan Corey.
If you would like to volunteer for the Learning Source, visit the website: www.thelearningsource.org.
Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.